Saturday, July 28, 2018

Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 24th 2018
My Rating: 4 Cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
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.
*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.

**Disclaimer: This book contains graphic scenes of violence and death.

I read this book as part of the 24 in 48 readathon and it was actually a surprise for me. Ever since I've seen the cover I've been intrigued by this book, and I'm glad I got to read it.

Ash Princess tells the story of Theodora, the rightful heir to the Astrean throne, as she struggles to stay alive at the court of her family's murderers. Theo hasn't had an easy life, with regular beatings, daily humiliations and even a name change. Because of course her captors wouldn't allow her to have her own name. The worst part comes right at the beginning of the book, when the king forces her to do something even worse: to take a life.

The thing I liked most about Theodora is her inner struggle. Because Kalovaxians force her to be Thora, while her fellow Astreans want her to be Theodora, and she herself has no idea who she is. The conflict Thora-Theo-Theodora is seen throughout the book until the very end, and it's a conflict I enjoyed a lot. Neither Thora nor Theo are fully formed, and Theodora is almost like another character, someone plucked from the history books. I wonder if this will be addressed in the upcoming books. Thora is a Kalovaxian, but even as a Kalovaxian she is being tortured. Because she's not allowed to forget that she's not a born Kalovaxian. When I think about it, she's probably the most mistreated Kalovaxian and at the same time the Astrean with the best treatment. And that is a conflict I truly enjoyed.

The duality of her situation is seen even in the love triangle she finds herself in. Although I'm not a fan of the fact that she is a part of a love triangle, I can't help but wonder which part of her is in love with whom: Is it the Kalovaxian young lady in love with Prinz Søren and the future Astrean queen is in love with Blaise, her childhood friend, or is it the other way around? And the conflict doesn't stop there. I found a lot of scenes in which it popped up, and it's probably what I loved most about the book.

The plot isn't as fast moving as I wanted, but it was perfect for the story. Had it been fast paced I probably wouldn't have believed the events and Theo's inner conflict were genuine. It isn't until towards the end that things start moving faster and faster, and she discovers a lot of things she never even knew about herself and her family.

Love triangle aside, I truly enjoyed this book and I'm very curious to see what will happen next.

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