Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date of Publication: April 24th 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Series: Ash Princess Trilogy
Ash Princess-Book 1
Lady Smoke-Book 2
Ember Queen-Book 3
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBoooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | Audible
Format read: eBook
Got Book From: Library (via OverDrive)
Trigger Warning: Violence, child abuse (one very graphic scene towards the end of the book)
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.
The last person who called me by my true name was my mother, with her dying breath.Ash Princess by laura sebastian
My Initial First Impressions of Ash Princess
Ash Princess has been on my radar for a while. I had requested it from NetGalley before it was published and got declined. I was pretty irritated by that since I had been reading posts from other bloggers about how good it was. Then, a couple of months ago, a lightbulb went off in my head. Why don’t I use the LIBRARY and see if they have it through Overdrive? So, that’s what I did, and after a month’s hold, I was able to get my digital fingers on Ash Princess.
I started Ash Princess by crying. Yes, crying. I sobbed my way through the prologue and the first few chapters. What Theodosia was forced to go through broke my heart. It also made me want to jump into the book and beat the living out of the Theryn and the Kaiser. When Theodosia was forced to kill her father while he was singing her a freaking lullaby, I lost it. I had to put my Kindle down and let myself cry it out.
I was suspect at Cress and Theo’s friendship from the beginning. Yes, I was that cynical person who couldn’t quite believe that the Kaiser’s executioner allowed his daughter to be besties with the deposed Queen of the land they had just taken over. My suspicions were somewhat confirmed when Cress became jealous when the Prinz started paying attention to Theodosia.
Speaking of the Prinz (or Soren), I couldn’t help but be cynical over his and Theo’s relationship evolved. He watched her being abused (whipped and beaten). He must have known of his father’s plans for Theodosia. Heck, I knew about them from the beginning. The Kaiser wasn’t subtle. Even the Kaiserina knew….smh. To have a romance, all of a sudden blossom between Soren and Theodosia, didn’t feel right to me. I mean, I knew it had to happen, just like I knew that there was going to be a triangle (Blaise, Theodosia, and Soren). It doesn’t mean that I had to like it.
Blaise, Heron, and Art showing up towards the end of the first half of the book was interesting. I say interesting because they were all escaped slaves they were all marked by the mines in some way. They were also dedicated to overthrowing the Kaiser and restoring Theo to her rightful place as Queen. I wouldn’t say I liked Art’s attitude towards Theo during this part of the book. She seemed to think that Theo lived this pampered life while her countrymen toiled. It annoyed me that Art would talk to her Queen that way.
The first half of Ash Princess flew by for me. The author did a great job of keeping my attention to the plot. There was no needless subplots or secondary characters cluttering things up, which I enjoyed.
As much as I loved the first half of Ash Princess, I thought the middle of the book was a little boring. I understand that the groundwork had to be laid for Theo and her group’s plan to work. It still bored me. I stopped reading the book for a couple of days because I got bored. But, once I got over that small bump, the book did pick up speed.
Theo and her group had a well thought out plan that Theo kept waffling on. Kill the Theryn, Cress, and Soren. Theo was OK with killing the Theryn. I mean, he was the one who slit her mother’s throat while her six-year-old self watched. But killing Cress, who was innocent, and Soren, who she was falling for, seemed like overkill.
Cress and Theo’s friendship did falter in the middle of the book. I was expecting it, primarily since Theo was tasked with killing the Theryn and Cress. But it still hurt to read. Cress was an innocent, and in Theo’s mind, shouldn’t be touched. I will say, though, I liked the 180 that Cress did towards the end of the book’s middle. But even then, Cress was looking out for Theo.
I was a little iffy on Soren and Theo’s romance. It was too sudden (like I said above). To go from him being apathetic to loving her within a couple of weeks made me go “meh.” It screamed of Instalove. Honestly, I thought that Theo was too emotionally damaged (from the abuse) even to form those kinds of attachments. But she did. That night on Soren’s boat was sweet, and it did show a different side of Soren then what I expected.
Blaise, Heron, and Art’s characters became a little more fleshed out. I loved Heron. He was a gentle giant who was a badass. I did feel bad when he explained his backstory. To lose his love to mine madness made my heart hurt. Art was still a raving bitch, but even that was explained. I felt that there was more to her character than what the author was letting on.
End of Book Impressions:
The end of Ash Princess was not what I thought it was going to be. A couple of twists in the plotline made me go “Huh” and “No way.” The author did an excellent job of wrapping up plotlines and setting new ones in motion.
I will warn you all that there is a very graphic scene where the Theryn whips Theo in front of the Kaiser and his court. It was a brutal scene to read. I was crying by the end of it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Theo was ready to do whatever she could to free her people.
Cress and Theo’s friendship took a sudden and drastic turn at the end of the book. I did not blame Cress or Theo for how they felt. I mean, Theo did try to kill Cress, and instead, something else happened. I do think that if Theo acted differently instead of rubbing what happened in Cress’s face, maybe things would have been different? Who knows. All I know is that Theo’s actions created Cress, and Theo will have to do something about her.
I will say that Soren did come through for Theo after she was imprisoned. I figured that Blaise, Heron, and Art would be the ones to rescue her. So when Soren appeared, I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised at who Theo let loose in the dungeons, nor was I surprised at what was said to her. And I wasn’t surprised when Theo did what she did after the escape.
There was one twist in the plot that was left for last. I was taken by surprise, as was Theo. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was like for her to have that surprise sprung on her. Poor Art did try to tell her but was always cut off.
Like I said above, individual storylines were wrapped up, and new ones were started at the end of the book. There was enough not written for me to want to read book 2. I need to see what will happen to Theo, Soren, and everyone else in the book.
My Overall Thoughts on Ash Princess
I enjoyed reading Ash Princess. It was a fast read with complex characters. Theo was incredibly strong, and she was lucky to have people who were willing to help her. Some scenes made me uncomfortable (the implied rape of Art and the death of her younger brother was one of them). I didn’t get Theo and Soren’s sudden romantic relationship, but I got why the author had it happen so suddenly.
I would recommend Ash Princess to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, implied rape, slavery, and child abuse (implied and otherwise).