fantasy · review · young adult

Ash Princess – Laura Sebastian

“You’re a lamb in the lion’s den, child. You’re surviving. Isn’t that enough?”

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Blurb: “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.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

It’s a common theme in fantasy to see some sort of an invasion take place, and this book is no different. Ash Princess doesn’t hold back, and it’s brutal to witness. Theo’s home has been taken over, her mother killed, her language stamped out and replaced with that which her invaders brought over. The use of magic stones has been altered, her culture destroyed, the last of her people forced to work until they are driven mad, and she is kept as the prize; paraded in front of court and beaten to prove a point to anyone who dare step out of line. Oh, and she has been forced to answer to a new name: Thora. There were many parts of the book where my heart with in my mouth and it goes all in with the violence, forcing Theo into horrific situations. But I actually quite liked it because it felt like she really had lost anything, unlike other books of the genre that feature this kind of trope.

The world building is incredible. Learning all of the history of Theo’s original culture and seeing how it has changed was so fascinating to read. It just all felt so real.

However, outside of that, I really struggled to finish this book. It was a very predictable read, falling for the love triangle and “try to woo the prince” tropes. I also found the characters to be really bland and the only one who really stood out was the protagonist, Theo, but even then I couldn’t quite work out her character. Minus a particular event that spurs her to seek revenge, she was quite a repressed character and it was like she suddenly flicked the switch and became this individual trying to change her life. I just found myself skim reading quite a lot, desperate to get to the end but not in a good way.

It’s such a shame because the world building and initial start were so strong but everything seemed to fizzle out afterwards.

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