Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Book: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Published April 2018 by Delacorte Books For Young Readers|432 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

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.

I liked Ash Princess!  Not as much as I thought, but I’m still curious about what’s going to happen next.

It reminded me a lot of The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkosk.  I think it’s fact that Theodosia’s country was invaded by the Kaiser, and how he conquers countries and then abandons them years later when they can no longer give him what he wants.  He burns them (whether it’s literal or figurative, I have no idea) but it is a concept that makes no sense, because eventually, won’t all of the countries run out of resources?  And if they’re literally burned to the ground, eventually he’ll run out of countries and resources, right?

Maybe I’m thinking too much about this though.  This is the sort of book that thinking about these things don’t seem to be a good idea, because then things don’t make a lot of sense.  At any rate, there are some things I really liked.

Like, the idea that the gems are sacred, and that only certain people can use them.  I did like that queens weren’t, because it would be too much power.  I feel like we got a really good sense of Theo’s world, and what it’s like to live under the Kaiser’s rule.  While we did get glimpses of what her world was like before he invaded, I still wish we had more of it.  It was balanced pretty well, and I wonder if maybe more about her life before would have taken away from how things are now.  At the same time, though, it might have added to it.  And I did like that the concept of berserkers was tied to the magic in the mines.  It definitely got my interest, and while I’m hoping we get more of the experiments that were done, I don’t know if we will.  I’m just hoping everything will come together.

I did like Theo, and while I think the Theyn and Kaiser were morons for not killing her, I can at least understand why he didn’t do it.  As for the Kaiser, it was clear she was the example.  It kind of reminded of Mare from the Red Queen. I think this book is a great read if you like the Red Queen and The Winner’s Curse.  And oddly enough, I was reminded of Everless as well, though I couldn’t begin to tell you why I was reminded of it.  There does seem to be a similar feel to both books, so it could be worth checking out.

I mean, if you read a lot of YA fantasy, this book might be really predictable.  I read enough YA fantasy that I thought certain things were predictable.  But I was still interested enough to see what would happen, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel, so I haven’t read so much YA fantasy that I was bored.  I guess it’s really up to you.

There is a love triangle, which wasn’t surprising- I mean, I feel like it’s pretty standard for virtually every YA fantasy and dystopia to have one.  We have Blaise, the boy Theo has love she was little, and Soren, who’s father took everything away from her.  While we see it throughout the book, I felt like everything else we see in the book is much more important.  She’s torn between two boys, and while it didn’t take over everything else, it was also not just hovering in the background.

I also liked the friendships we see in the book, and I hope we see more of them.  I particularly want to see more of Theo’s relationship with Artemsia, and I think their relationship is going to get a lot more interesting in the books to come.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.  And it should be interesting to see how things turn out with Cress too.  There’s a lot I’m looking forward to seeing in this series.

4 stars.  I didn’t love Ash Princess, but I still really enjoyed it, and I’m really looking forward to the next book.

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