Title: Ash Princess
Release Date: 14th June 2018
(This review is spoiler free!)
“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.”
‘Ash Princess‘ is a debut novel and first book in a new YA fantasy series. If I could only say one thing about this book, let it be this; it will leaving you wanting–no, needing more!
It took me a couple of chapters to get into the story, despite the prologue being incredibly intriguing and sad. But, once the story started to take shape, my attention was firmly grasped. As I learned more and more about this world I was entering and these characters I was starting this journey with, I really began to think of how much is going to happen in the series. This book is very much like the long prologue to an epic series. I could tell from each chapter I read that the author has some major plans up her sleeves for these characters, and that made me keep reading right through till the last page.
I wouldn’t say the plot was entirely unique. It reminded me a little of ‘Throne of Glass’ by Sarah J Maas, but only in the sense that most of the book took place in the palace, Theo’s home and prison. We join Theo, a Princess held hostage by the conqueror of her kingdom, the Kaiser. He uses her as bait to draw in the resistance of her kingdom. After the death of someone close to her she comes to the realisation that if she doesn’t act, then her people and her Kingdom would completely cease to exist. And she knows her days are numbered. Being in the Court environment for most of the book, you can bet there was gossiping, backstabbing, treason and heart-wrenching betrayal. These environments created a tonne of tension throughout the whole book. You didn’t know when the Kaiser would find out Theo’s plans, if he’d find them out, or if he would hurt another person that Theo cared about. Sebastian wrote this suspense really well, and it’s one of the major reasons that I kept turning the page when reading the book. This author definitely knows how to keep you hooked on the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Theo’s character grow. At the beginning we have a broken Princess, who is following the rules as she only knows how. However, as said, Theo sadly loses a loved one and afterwards Sebastian starts to realistically make Theo’s character hopeful when an old friend from the past appears to help her. Gradually from the support of her old and new friends, there is great character development and I found myself liking Theo’s character with the more daring she became. However, her past is so devastating, she does have her moments of doubt and weakness, and I just found that incredibly raw and real. There was kind of some insta-love. But, at the same time, I was thrown at who the love interest would be. Theo is cunning and had me denying my own predictions!
Supporting characters were a big part in this book as their deaths and appearances are what drives Theo to realise that she needs to fight for her kingdom. They give her the strength that she has been terrified to show throughout her years of being a prisoner. Of course, not all supporting characters are good. One in particular annoyed me, but I felt as if that was the reaction the author wanted us to have. She is a character that’s easily disliked, but by the end of the book, she ended up being one of my favourites from just one scene near the end of the book.
The world building throughout this book was great. Even though we’re in a Palace for most of the first book, Sebastian does a really good job of painting a picture of the world outside the palace walls for us. She uses vivid descriptions to describe neighbouring kingdoms, and lands across the seas. But, one part of the world building in particular was my favourite. The magic system/religion. Throughout the story we learn about these higher beings who possess the powers of the elements and how some different characters also possessed these abilities. These abilities that the characters have can be strengthened by the use of Gems. They come in the form of Fire gems, Earth gems, etc, which the Antagonist mocks by having his people wear them as jewellery instead of letting them be used for their true purpose. You can tell how insulting is for Theo and her people when these Gems are used. Quite a slap in the face really!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it really slow at some points as most of the story took place in the same location. However, it’s clear that this is just the build up to a much more exciting journey in future books. I did find the romance in the book a little confusing for a brief few chapters, but once this was sorted out, it was like insta-love. Which I’m not a massive fan of, but it didn’t really stop me from enjoying the book. I’m hoping that in future books, the romance is cleared up a little. There was the perfect amount of it in the first book and I hope that continues!
I do genuinely believe Laura Sebastian may be an author to keep your eye on in the coming years, as this was her debut novel and it was a fantastic read. It gets me excited for what she has planned in her upcoming books and in her continuation of this series.
Have you read ‘Ash Princess’ by Laura Sebastian?
Does this sound like a book you’d enjoy?
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