‘Ash Princess’ by Laura Sebastian is a tense read.
Synopsis: Thora is a glorified prisoner in the home of the Kaiser, a man who invaded her country and stole her people. Ten years of parties, wearing ash crowns and being punished for any discord incited by the slaves, Thora has learnt her role and how to play it. But after the Kaiser orders her to kill the rebel’s leader, she knows time is running out not just for herself, but what remains of her country. Can she shed her Ash Princess title and become Queen Theodosia?
I wish we could’ve seen more of Astrea than just the castle and the surrounding waters. However, I couldn’t imagine the story having the same feel to it if the events weren’t confined to one building. All the decisions are made under stress and having those choices play out in the castle adds the understanding of being imprisoned and downtrodden. The lack of freedom for Thora grows more and more stifling as her plot unfolds and I definitely felt that along with her.
Thora was hard to connect with at first. I imagine after ten years of continuous torture and humiliation anyone would become almost numb but I personally couldn’t connect to her at the beginning. By the end, I was rooting for her. I understood her more than I thought I would. She came across really human; full of difficult emotions to decipher and overcome. So many conflicting thoughts and feelings that she had to wade through to get to freedom. Her decisions were ruthless and her bravery is pretty amazing. Definitely a character to keep my eye on.
There is a slight love triangle in this. Luckily, I went into this book prepared for it and I agree that it really doesn’t take anything away from the story itself. I imagine Sebastian will play with this thread more in the sequel. Blaise is the childhood friend; plenty of memories shared and perhaps a relationship would have blossomed if the siege never happened. Soren is the son of the Kaiser, he’s a warrior who’s sentenced many of her people to death but he’s his own man and shows kindness where many others do not. Personally I don’t have a preference, neither are favourable choices but both bring something out in Thora that the other can’t.
I can see a few readers potentially becoming bored by this book but I found that the lulls in the pacing gave you time to reflect on some of the events. There are some very bloody scenes, torture is not shied away from here. For once, I actually think that all the violence in a book was completely necessary. It’s brutal; it’s not a happy story so why not show the truth of it? Ash Princess isn’t what I was expecting it to be, but my interest has been piqued. Stay tuned.
“I was a princess made of ashes; there is nothing left of me to burn.
Now it’s time for a queen to rise.”
I received this in Shelflove Crate’s April ‘Magical Manipulators’ box.
You can get it here