Title: Ash Princess
Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: Ash Princess #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: April 24th, 2018 (Delacorte Books For Young Readers)
Synopsis: 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.
“I was a princess made of ashes; there is nothing left of me to burn.
Now it’s time for a queen to rise.”
Theodosia was once the princess of Astrea. Now she is Thora, mockingly called the Ash Princess, a captive of the Kalovaxians who invaded her kingdom and enslaved her people. Theo/Thora has spent the past ten years in the court of the Kaiser as a trophy of his victory over her people, and suffering the punishments for any rebellion from the remaining Astreans. But after a horrifying turn of events, she decides it’s time for her to get revenge and take back her kingdom and her throne.
Now plot wise, I really did like it. It’s entertaining, and draws the reader into the story. Though it does initially start out slow, it turns into a fast-paced read soon enough. As far as villains go, I thought that the Kaiser was appropriately evil and more than a little creepy. What I liked most however, is that Theo chose to use her wits and her brain to fight back instead of escaping at the first opportunity and leave things for others to do. I also liked Crescentia’s character arc and I’m particularly interested to see how her character is going to develop in the sequel.
Theo as a character, however, I didn’t like all that much. She has been a prisoner in her own kingdom for ten years, abused and brainwashed, but it felt like she just had a personality 180 in no time at all – in the blink of an eye, she’s ready to spy, manipulate and kill. As for Prinz Soren – that was too easy. There were some places where Theo’s manipulation was so obvious and yet the Prinz never suspected a thing – not nearly cautious enough around a girl who has every reason to hate him.
There’s also a huge info dump in the beginning that could have been executed more elegantly. The magic system sounds quite interesting, elemental powers derived from gems mined in caves and blessed by the Gods, but it was not expanded upon enough to add any real significance to the story. Not to mention, that – atleast at this point in the story – Theo can’t use any magic, or rather, she’s not supposed to.
There are a lot of parts to the story that feel very illogical, like the Kaiser keeping Theo alive in the first place, how the group of rebels seem to have infiltrated the palace with no issues (just in time for the story to get started and not in the ten years prior) and that big reveal at the end. Not to mention, there was such a familiar feel to the entire book, like a story I’ve read before – typical YA fantasy. Lastly, I am so done with love triangles – and it looks like this is headed exactly in that direction, which did not make me happy at all.
I have my fingers crossed that these are all developed upon in the sequel and Lady Smoke stays away from the many cliches I spotted developing in Ash Princess, because I did enjoy this book. Overall, Ash Princess is a solid, if a little predictable, read and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel!