Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Review: Ash Princess | Ash Princess Trilogy by Laura Sebastian

ASH PRINCESSTheodosia 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.

5 stars

Young Adult | Romance | Fantasy

So tickle me surprised because honestly Ash Princess blew me away. I loved it. Surprised? Yeah me too. Seriously, when I first saw Ash Princess I told myself, yeah I would probably read it eventually but was never in a rush. The lingered advertisement of ‘If you loved Red Queen, then Ash Princess will be right up you alley’ had me questioning whether I would even read it later rather than any time soon. I know, I need to really reread the Red Queen Series and actually type down my thoughts because man do I have a ton, anyone who knows my utter distastes for that series probably is picking up my hesitance. 

With that being said, Laura shattered that expectation, she utterly, and completely captivated me with Ash Princess. So from here out, there will be no comparison to the other daunting series, only us and this amazing world I cannot wait to get more of as I pine endless for each release.

So lets jump in shall we? Because whew there is a ton that I just absolutely loved about this first installment of this trilogy. Before I get into the characters, the world building – oh my lanta. Which to be fair, the world building would be nothing without the characters, but I will dive into that more in a smidge, but just the overall development of the actual world we were surrounded by, it was phenomenal. One of my favorites was the differences of languages was just fascinating. On top of the differences in languages, there was a culture shock between the Kalovaxin and Astrean. I loved the caste system. I really just enjoyed how everything was setup between the two cultures, the conciseness of the Astrean (or even the Astrean rabble…) while there was pure hatred and obliviousness with the Kalovaxin. Laura created such a riveting world and while reading it, when an author develops something that flows so vividly; the moment Cress and Theo walked the ocean shore to see the ship Soren was working on with Erik, you could practically see it. The Tunnels. Hell the moments Theo was called to the room to rip whatever punishment that Kaiser wanted to ensue onto her for her Astrean people, you felt the hatred between the cultures, just the divide. It was just well played out, as the reader you felt a connection to each aspect as it was presented to you. 

Another angle that I really enjoyed with the world building, which really lies with the caste system that the Kalovaxin has degraded the Astrean, which is The Fire Mines. Between The Fire Mines, the hovering mine madness down to the ticking time bombs that is the berserkers. I definitely have some theories that surrounds a great deal of possibilities, but from just the played out build of what the Astrean culture had deemed was interesting. On top of this, it aids on the politics. There is such a play on the characters, everyone including Kaiser, his wife (Prinz Soren’s mother) Kaiserin, and down to Theyn and his daughter Crescentia (or Cress – Theo’s ‘friend’). I know, overload on character names, but seriously these four are such a pivotal dynamic to the plot of the politics. Kaiser shows the menacing brutality of the Kalovaxin while his wife shares the contradiction in the culture. Then you have Theyn and his daughter, Cress. I liked and loathed these two, especially Cress. I was interested to see the naive personality that Cress brought to the table yet there was still a malice personality brewing, even though she on many occasions, considered Theo as her sister, she held her very much below her stature as a Kalovaxin. With the end results of Cress, I can see another turn of events with the cruel, possible villain if at best some dabble in who is the better she-monster as jealousy was already restraining her opinions when it came to Theo. 

Theo, or Theodosia is our main character, obviously told by her perspective. Obviously she was definitely an interesting female lead. At first glance she is someone who appears to be broken, weak and beyond emotionally crippled. But, can you really blame her? She lives in constant fear for her life, she is living in her own palace, friend to Cress who is the daughter of the man who killed her mother, tortured constantly by Kaiser, the Kalovaxin King. It is heartbreaking to see what she has been brittle down towards. Nonetheless in this, she is a lot stronger than what initially meets the eye, I love her spunk and fight. 

I am really interested to see how she develops in the future, especially considering the fact that it was thrown into her face in a way that she is unable to really fully erupt her true powerful nature without help, however being compared to her mother constantly. I wonder if she will ever be able to withstand and surpass this sigma about her both internally and outwardly amongst the people. I am particularly curious about how she allows others to semi-dictate her thought process, she isn’t weak nor inferior, but yet there is still a need to depend on her surrounding comrades. If and when she wins this newly brewed war she has started, how will she react towards the end results of what she lays in her wake – just curious, not faulting her choices, simply wondering where she will take this.

And in the midst of Theo, we have two other main characters, Prinz Soren and Blaise. Both worth everything. I have to admit, I really liked both the male characters that were predominant in Theo’s plot development. Both are easy, likable characters, charming most definitely. With Soren it was interesting to see how his actual struggles really take for his character. He struggled on multiple levels, no angle was untouched with him emotionally, physically and mentally. To even stick more in the mud with these two, in terms of Blaise, I am curious still. Whether or not I want him to be our delicious romantic fairy tale ending with Theo, I find myself wanting to indulge in the evil possibilities. This plays also into the world building that I stated previously, the mine madness and the berserkers, it is mentioned multiple times that Blaise has mine-mad, I wonder honestly if he will allow the fury and anger to continue to curb his powerless, wondering if he will break this charming childhood love with Theo, becoming the actual antagonist villain of sorts.  The willingness to sacrifice not only everyone for this ‘greater good’ but in some points I felt he very much sacrificed everything about Theo to become the face of the rebellion.I have a slight theory that coincides with Cress…

And slow your rolls crumpets, as you can probably pick up a lot of what is being mentioned here, so much dynamics with Theo between the delectable Prince Soren and the haughty Blaise but yes there is obviously a love triangle a brewing. I am not going to lie, I am rooting for Soren – cough… but honestly the love interests that developed in Ash Princess was splendid. Though I felt at some points the possiblity of fickle developments, it overall played out to where it melded with the actually growth of the plot and the characters. Nothing was underrated with the other nor overshadowed itself. 

Bottom line, as you can see I loved Ash Princess. I mean, did you pick up on all the rambling? Honestly, this has put my faith back into Young Adult Fantasy that is looming with delicious Romantic entanglements. I can say that I absolutely loved everything from the world building, the disturbing political monarchy, and the characters. Oh be still my speckled heart did I wholeheartedly enjoy each character. On top of the characters, their dynamics, I couldn’t get enough of them. I have my theories on the love triangle, the possibilities of the end results that is this hollowing war tickle at our fingertips. Though the love interests are not barring on the plot development, I was left itching to see what was happening next. I was enamored. Everything just flowed, leaving me incandescently swooning for more. 

So who can guess I will be continuing this trilogy? Yep. Me. And I do believe Lady Smoke was released recently, so you know I will be grabbing this! See you there.

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