This series has been on my radar for a while as something that I was very interested in reading, and with book three being released recently I thought it was the best time for me to finally start with book one!
by Laura Sebastian
Series: Ash Princess #1
Release date: April 24th 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
This book was a good start to what I’m hoping will be a new favorite series. It has a bunch of elements that I love – rebellion, broken characters struggling to find themselves, magic, and a hated and feared tyrant to contend with.
This does follow a fairly similar premise to most other YA fantasy novels, where a kingdom is conquered and the princess is enslaved, but after terrible events, decides she needs to reclaim her rightful place as ruler of her kingdom. However I will say that the characters themselves, the world, and the magic definitely make this more than just a copy/paste fantasy.
As for the characters, I really liked Theodosia (or Thora, as she is called through most of this book). Her development over the course of the book was honestly very inspiring. She goes through so much loss and pain at a young age, and understandably goes along with her captors because she has no other choice but to survive. When she is faced with the fact that no one will be coming to rescue her, she decides she needs to step up and take control of her own life. She’s cunning and can be fairly ruthless when she needs to be, and after a lifetime of watching the man who took over her kingdom use the same tactics on her and her subjects, it’s fitting that she finally gets to take what she’s witnessed and learned and use it all to her advantage.
There was also a love triangle, which for me wasn’t an ideal situation but it truly made sense with the situation that Theodosia is in and felt natural within the story. It also didn’t take away from the main plot, or at least it didn’t distract me from what was really going on. It will be interesting to see what happens with this situation in the next book, because I feel like the relationships Theodosia built will have a bigger role to play.
I found the magic system of this world to be interesting, as only the people from Theodosia’s kingdom can use magic through spiritgems. It was glossed over a bit on how these really work, but really, Theodosia was just a young child (I believe she was only 6 years old) when she was made a prisoner so it’s quite possible that her knowledge on how the spiritgems work is limited and so we as the reader don’t see a lot of that either. She also mentions on a few occasions that because she is royalty, that means that she would’ve never been trained to use magic because of the laws and customs of her kingdom so her being a little hazy on the details makes sense. I do hope that we get more of an explanation in the next book, as some of the events of this one make it seem like we will be seeing more of the magic.
The twist at the end was actually really interesting and had me theorizing on what could possibly be going on, and so I’m excited to see where things go with the second book! I obviously don’t want to say too much about what happens, but I think that the ending was great and the next book is going to be wild.
If you are looking for a completely unique and never before seen YA fantasy, I don’t think you will find that here. But if you do read this book, you will find a well written story about revenge.