Thank you Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts on the book are my own and being sent a copy in no way impacted how I felt about the book.
Release Date: April 24th, 2018
Trigger Warnings: death, murder, abuse, PTSD, grief, the death of a parent, isolation, betrayal, mentions of domestic abuse
Publisher: Pan Macmillian Australia
Genre: fantasy, high fantasy, romance, young adult, dark
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.
For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.
For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
R E V I E W
You’ve read books like Ash Princess before. The story is not unique, you’ve probably read the story of a girl losing her kingdom and fighting for it back countless times. I’m a bit of a sucker for a lost princess storyline, in this case, I felt Ash Princess hit every single heartstring I had. I was in love with the writing of this book.
I feel as if Laura Sebastian wasn’t afraid to dive into the nitty-gritty, such as including the representation of PTSD. I’ve spoken about this a few times, but I have PTSD and any representation I can find in a text is important to me. Sebastian, in my opinion, writes Theo’s PTSD flawlessly into the book. It doesn’t feel as if it is being used as a plot point in order to drive the story home, it is seamlessly ingrained into who Theo is. For a debut novel, Ash Princess read extremely well. It was a memorable book for me and one that I know I want to read more of, especially with the ending.
What is Ash Princess about? Theodosia watched her mother be murdered when the Kaiser came. From that moment he took over what would have been her kingdom and used her as a pawn in his game to eliminate hope among her people. How did the Kaiser do this? He punished Theo, or Thora as he made her be known as, by wiping her. This may be done in public or without spectators. The end result is the same; Theo/Thora refuses to speak out in fear that she will be hurt. She has accepted her role that the Kaiser has given her and has, ultimately, given up. That is until someone from her past appears and Theo is ordered to murder him or her. This sets off a chain of events which lead to another familiar face recruiting Theo into the mix of the rebels. A journey ensures as Theo tries to determine what is right and who is okay to hurt – not everyone should be blamed for the mistakes of their parents. We read as Theo goes through the inner turmoil of who to hurt in order to get what she wants, revenge.
There is so much intensity woven into Ash Princess that I read it in one sitting and in four hours. It was such a gripping novel. I will say again that this novel is probably something you’ve read before but I am just a sucker for these stories. With magic woven into the book, along with friendships and betrayals, it makes for such a creative piece that will leave you yearning for more.
Time to jump into what I liked and disliked about Ash Princess. Keep in mind I am a picky and critical reader, I always have a complaint but it doesn’t discredit how much I enjoyed this book.
L I K E S
✗ GREAT CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
This is from everyone, but primarily Theodosia. Watching her come into her own throughout Ash Princess was powerful. As she went from living her life in a way she despised to finally doing something about it. I mentioned it before but the PTSD rep throughout this just really spoke to me. It felt raw and that’s what I like my rep to feel like. This is my personal opinion though, another with PTSD may hate this rep.
I do wish there had been a little more fleshing out of the side characters but I really feel like that will happen in the second book. Ash Princess seemed focused on Theo and watching her break out of her shell and confines. Again, very powerful for me, especially since Theo felt morally grey to me.
✗ PLOT WASNT SPECTACULAR BUT I LOVE IT
I’m a sucker for well-written tropes. I definitely can read as many ‘my kingdom’s been stolen’ stories, as my heart desires as long as they’re well written. I will mention once more, this is probably a story you’ve read before. If you’re someone who prefers original stories, this probably isn’t the book for you.
I just love everything about Ash Princess, especially Sebastian’s writing. I feel like it just captured what she was wanting to say perfectly and bled through so many real emotions that fantasy tends to skip.
✗ HARD DECISIONS
I find in books the hard decisions aren’t that hard. Especially when the character has been abused and manipulated to do the evil characters biding. Decisions like this aren’t easy when you’ve been forced into submission. I appreciated the fact that this was highlighted throughout the book. Theo anguished over almost every decision she had to make, at the time it got frustrating but it definitely felt like it was perfect for the setting of the book.
D I S L I K E S
✗ LOVE TRIANGLE
The return of the love triangle. I really hope it’s over by the second book because I am not ready for this. This had to be the most annoying thing about Ash Princess. At times it felt as if Theo couldn’t distinguish between the two love interested. I really did want to shake the girl and shout at her, truly.
The love triangle is dead and should never be brought back, even if it is in the first book. I mean, I totally get why considering Theo had been showed no attention her whole life and then suddenly two gorgeous boys are showing her attention? Would be easy to fall into it. However, I just despise love triangles. I think they’re unfair on one person because someone is always getting played and no one deserves that.
✗ AT TIMES FELT SLOPPY
This is particularly in regards to one thing, though at some points the fact this is a debut was glaringly obvious. The magic was under explained. This was my big problem. I felt that Sebastian didn’t spend long enough establishing the magic system and explaining it to the reader, which meant I was confused on the background of what was going on. I mean, it’s been a couple days since I finished and I’m still a little unsure about the whole magic system of Ash Princess.
Overall, I personally really, really enjoyed Ash Princess. I can totally understand why some people wouldn’t though. I just really enjoyed it. I don’t really even know how to put it in words – she says after writing a 1000+ word review.
Happy reading everyone!
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