May 7, 2018

A fallen princess rises as a queen || Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Title : Ash Princess
Author : Laura Sebastian
Publisher : Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 24th 2018
Synopsis :
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.

Trigger warning : Torture

No matter how many times I read a book about a princess rebelling against the enemy kingdom to take back her own, I would never be tired of the trope. There's something so amazing about a girl embracing her destiny and birthright, and there's so much thrill in the whole process of betrayal, scheming, planning and dangerous missions. Ash Princess is the complete package of everything the concept has to offer, and especially since it's been awhile since I read a book about royalty and rebellion, I absolutely loved the story of Theo.

Theodosia has been brought up and is living in disgrace ever since her kingdom was invaded and she was captured. Living as the "Ash Princess", a constant title of shame and insult, she has been putting up with everything until she is forced to do the unthinkable, and she finally snaps. She decides it's time to take back what's hers, and is ready to go to any lengths, and betray everyone around her to claim back her throne and win her kingdom back.

First of all, the book is actually pretty dark. Theo isn't just abused verbally and emotionally, there's physical torture inflicted as well, and when you think about the fact that she's gone through all that since she was six, it might be a bit disturbing. So, trigger warnings for torture and PTSD everyone.

Whether you like Theo or not, you'll root for her. A lot of this book deals with Theo's inner thoughts and interior monologues, and the major part of this novel is actually about her conflicting loyalties and her fear of what she has become. Have all these years of grooming and abuse made her a pawn of the enemy, and into the puppet of the Kaiser's design? The battle within her was bigger than the battle between the kingdoms, and I loved how it was handled.

Helpless Soren had my heart, even though I often wondered why he couldn't just stand up and do something. The romance had to be the only aspect I have something to complain about, it was sweet yes, but I felt like it was a bit abrupt. Maybe because the book actually had very few scenes for the romance - something that surprised me tbh - but I wanted a bit more, especially since I couldn't put my finger on Soren at times. I get how Theo gradually started feeling for him, but on his side, it seemed like insta love. Or worse a little bit of sympathy. Whatever it was, I found that department a bit lacking.

The overall story was fact paced and full of thrilling moments that makes you want to know what happens next. Ash Princess is a great fantasy that is captivating and backed by stellar character development in the lead, and if you love those royalty fantasies like me, then this is something you should definitely check out.

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