Ash Princess. Laura Sebastian. Young adult/Fantasy. 2018. 432 pages. 5 stars.
You’re a lamb in the lion’s den, child. You’re surviving. Isn’t that enough?
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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.
I was a princess made of ashes; there is nothing left of me to burn.
Now it’s time for a queen to rise
It’s been so long since I’ve gobbled up a monarchial-esque fantasy! I’ve been anticipating Ash Princess since the start of 2018 and I was lucky enough to have received both a digital eARC and a finished review copy before its release date from Penguin Random House!
Ash Princess is such a great story because it’s told from the perspective of a princess who has been held captive most of her life and the writing made the struggle so real. Readers can really feel the conflicting thoughts of Theodosia as she is forced to turn on her friends (whose parents killed and continue to kill her people). Normally it’s easy for me to choose sides but the well-crafted thoughts of Theodosia made it difficult for me as well. For this, I applaud the author.
The characters were great with their respective backstories. I was a fan of everyone except for That One Character I Won’t Mention but I believe that really was the intention! To feel greatly for a character, whether love or hatred, means the writer accomplished their job.
The world building was amazing because it really balances the history and the current situation of the setting without turning off the reader. Readers are well-informed and intrigued all at once! Astrea’s struggle is felt and the weight on Theodosia’s shoulders are put into perspective and it makes us appreciate the story on a whole new level.
For the love story, I was so hooked. I couldn’t get enough of Søren, Theodosia, and Blaise. I’m so excited to find out how this will play out in the upcoming books!
Overall, I devoured this book in a matter of hours and I wish I could go back in time to read it all over again for the first time. A wonderful masterpiece, indeed. 5 stars!