Ash Princessby Published 24 Apr 2018
|Publisher||Delacorte Books for Young Readers|
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed “Ash Princess.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she's not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but one: Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe.
When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't keep her feelings and memories pushed down any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Or for her rebel allies to challenge her friendship with the one person who's been kind to her throughout the last hopeless decade: her heart's sister, Cress.
Cornered into impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become queen.
"Ash Princess" Reviews
Is it better to have your life ended by someone who hates you or someone who loves you?
Ash Princess has a heroine desperately trying to reclaim her stolen throne, a mindlessly evil tyrant who stole said throne, and a love triangle... What's that, you say? You've heard this one before? Yeah, me too.
That being said, to give credit where it's due, it stands out for being compulsively readable and entertaining.
Plot and character-wise, it resembles many other YA fantasies. But I was just complaining in my review of Sky in the Deep about how I keep reading a lot of “shallow and emotionless” YA fantasy books, and this happens to be one that breaks the pattern. I can't deny it is very compelling, though it relies heavily on violence, abuse and misery to keep us turning the pages.
I'll spare you a plot summary - you can probably guess it anyway - and just say there's a rightful queen held captive by the conquerors of her kingdom who must assist the underground rebellion and reclaim her throne. Whilst fighting off the hot dudes along the way, of course.
Many are comparing this to Red Queen, which I did think was shallow and emotionless. Instead, I’d compare it to Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes - both books are heavy on the violence, feature slavery as a theme, have a love triangle (sort of) and an evil tyrant driving the drama and action. They are also similarly paced and engaging.
Aside from an awkward infodump in the first chapter, it goes down smoothly. The violence and unfairness make it easy to keep turning the pages. Shortly after the book opens Theo is forced to murder her father, and nothing gets me reading like a nice dose of fury at the injustice of it all. Theo's undercover manipulations are also fun to read.
Some of the major plot aspects seem illogical, such as why the new king (called the Kaiser 🙄) would leave the rightful heir alive. The book tries to explain it away but it doesn't really make much sense. Surely if you want to dampen any hope of reinstating the rightful monarch then you would just kill the rightful monarch.
I should warn that it is at times grim and gory. Slavery is a norm; beatings, torture and rape (non-graphic) are common. The divide between the dark-haired, olive-skinned Astrean people and the pale-skinned, blonde-haired Kalovaxians is clearly along racial lines.
BUT what can I say? It is also an entertaining pageturner. If you have room in your heart (and on your bookshelves) for another fantasy with princesses, evil rulers, rebellion and romance, then you could definitely do worse than this one.
TW: graphic abuse and torture; rape (non-graphic); racism.
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ARC provided by Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.
Phew, okay. This was such a heavy book!
I'm going to leave off a rating because of the amount of triggers in this book. It was verrry difficult for me to get through because of the pain/abuse/etc. There are some powerful themes woven throughout, and I'm not saying any of this to degrade that or the story! It just hit me really hard and I had a difficult time stomaching it, especially with the amount. (Again, this is not meant to be a negative review! It was just very emotionally heavy for me.)
So with that said, let's start off with some warnings.
This book focuses HEAVILY on abuse (both mental and physical and in sharp detail), as well as slavery and race (obviously I cannot speak on that, but just be aware). I personally felt ill during several scenes - not because they were handled poorly (I really can't be the judge of that). There's lots of empowerment/finding the will to stand up to your aggressors/etc - but the world is so so so dark and even the sliver of hope didn't feel very bright.
Basically, we have Thora (or Theodosia per her real name), who is known as the 'Ash Princess' because she was the former queen's daughter. Her country was captured when she was young by the Kalovaxians - who slit her mother's throat but kept her alive for punishment when people tried to rebel (and other sick reasons.) Throughout her life, Thora is beaten down constantly until she's afraid to stand up to the kaiser (king) - so when we start her story, she's almost complacent.
Anyway, something happens that I won't spoil, and she finds the willpower to stand up and try to bring down the kaiser from within.
I don't want to say much more. I think I'd have a hard time even discussing Theo as a character. She was strong and has been through so much, but ahhh it was so difficult to watch. There's a love triangle of sorts but it was soooo depressing and sad, just because of the brutality of the world and the choices that Theo felt had to be made.
So... I don't particularly know my feelings towards the story. I'm mostly curious to see what others think.
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Please tell me "Prinz" is a typo in the synopsis and that it's not how they spell prince bc I don't think I could cope with that tbh xD
pssssstt i know it's german for prince now. thanks(:
I'm just going to open up and say this book is just a jumbo of every other YA fantasy book thrown together, especially Ruined by Amy Tintera, which is a book that I loved. It also had Red Queen vibes. I think if this would have been my first YA fantasy book, I would have probably liked it a lot more. Also, throw in my most hated trope, sort of a weird love triangle, and you already have me annoyed. Actually, I'm not even sure if it was a triangle, but there were multiple kisses going on.
Another thing that bothers me is when a character is annoying and takes herself too seriously. Theo/Thora just kept on saying my people this, and I'm the queen that. She also has all these intense memories from when she was seven or younger. I feel like I can barely remember yesterday, let alone when I was five.
What was good is that the writing was really well done, and if some of the trope things would have been removed (like girl pretending she likes a guy to betray/kill him, but she really likes him) it would have been a lot better. I just need something more fresh/different. However, I would still read the next book to see what happens next...