My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Audio ARC Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Please Note:  I received an advance audio copy of this book from Listening Library in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (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.

What happens to the last in a royal line after her land is conquered?  This wildly imaginative book, Ash Princess, by Laura Sebastian, aims to show how this lone young woman, Theodosia/Thora, used as a political pawn her whole life, rises up to become the leader her people need.

What I Liked:

Setting/World Building:
I found the idea of gemstones having power, with some people being able to manipulate this, really fun.  The magical abilities that the Estrians have is really exciting and is used to wonderful effect.

Theodosia starts out as a frightened teenager who will do anything to appease her captors.  But when she is forced to kill a beloved member of her household, she finally has had enough.

It takes a while in the story for Theodosia to realize who her friends are and who are not, but that was a compelling journey for the reader.  I loved this character.  She was not instantly brave or strong, but is moving towards those qualities.

Criss is Thora's best friend, but also the daughter of one of the most brutal members of the conquering enemy.  While Criss is very kind to Thora, she is amazingly oblivious to the emotional turmoil that Theodosia is experiencing at the hands of the Kaiser.  I actually think she is willfully ignorant in order to live with herself.  I liked that Criss is a complicated character, not a caricature of a pampered daughter.

The son of the Kaiser, Soren has trained all his life in the art of military conquest.  I like how conflicted he is when he realizes what his father's regime is actually doing to the native people.  

This could easily be an analogy to the imperialism of many countries (USA, England, Russia, etc.).  The book demonstrates the systematic subjugation of a group of people, and how people look the other way if their life is comfortable.

By the time the people begin to rebel, I am firmly on the side of the oppressed!  There was a powerful dose of suspense which made this book a page turner (or in the audio book's version, a binge listen).

What I Was Mixed About:

Why is it that every "Royal" story is set in what seems like the British Middle Ages?  I know that this is a fun setting (who doesn't want to be a princess?), but so many books are doing this.

What I Didn't Like:

In this same vein, there was little, if any diversity.  Yes, Medieval England didn't have people of color, or with attributes that were obviously different.  

The author made a small attempt at diversity by making a minor character gay, but I felt this was done as an afterthought.  The character wasn't fully developed enough for me to feel any empathy.  

I really think the time of making straight, white characters, the default should be over.


Release Date:  April 24th, 2018

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Publisher:  Listening Library

Author:  Laura Sebastian

Narrator:  Saskia Maarleveld

Listening Length:  13 Hours, 18 Minutes

Page Length:  432 Pages

Format:  Audio Book

Source:  Random House Audio

Recommendation:  An exciting fantasy journey.  I loved experiencing the point of view of a conquered person in her own kingdom.  I just wish there was more diversity of characters and setting.
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1 comment :

  1. Ooh nice! This sounds like an interesting and fun fantasy read! Glad you were able to enjoy it for the most part! Nice review!


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2020 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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