My Rating ~ Four and a half stars
Release date: 24 April 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Books
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.
Theodosia witnessed the murder of her mother, the Astrean Fire Queen, when she was 6 years old. A murder ordered by the Kalovaxian Kaiser. The Kaiser kept Theo alive, only to keep her prisoner in the castle, so he could use her as an example to the rebels who tried to take back their land. Punishing and humiliating her everytime any attempt was made.
Theo has spent ten years enduring the Kaiser’s abuse when she meets Prinz Søren, the Kaiser’s son, who seems frown on his father’s treatment of her. While most of her people are enslaved, working in mines, there are a small group of rebels willing to attempt to take Theo away from the castle. Theo needs to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice and who she can trust – the rebels, the Prinz or her only friend at the castle – Cress (the daughter of the man who murdered her mother).
The awful abuse and sheer hopelessness of Theo’s situation made for confronting reading. I struggle to read about physical and emotional torture, especially when directed at children. It’s hard not to think of your own child reading scenes like those. But the writing was powerful and I liked Theo’s determination to fight back (even when that meant pretending to be powerless) and her drive to help her people, no matter the cost, felt empowering.
Although I usually hate love triangles, and halfway through the book was thinking “whyyyyy”, by the end I didn’t mind it. I thought Theo’s relationship with her childhood friend was pointless at first, but in the last few pages I could see why the author wrote it in. I think it will contribute to a major plot point in the next book.
I wanted to stay up all night reading this book. I found it fast paced and I really loved the writing. My only complaint would be some things that seemed important to the story weren’t really explained well, such as the spiritgems. The gems are constantly referred to, we’re told they are what the slaves are mining in the mines and that there are fire, earth, air and water gems but how they work and exactly what they do is glossed over a bit. Theo says on a few occasions that she can’t use the gems because she hasn’t been trained and it’s sacrilege. It seemed a bit silly. I mean, sure, apparently you don’t get into the ‘After’ (meaning the afterlife) if you use them when you shouldn’t, but if you’re going around killing and plotting to kill people, there has to come a point where you just use the gems to save your life, right? Considering the fact that Theo doesn’t actually seem too devoted to the Gods anyway, and mentions on more than one occasion that she’s not even sure they exist…it just made me yell “Oh just use the gems for goodness sake!” a few times.
But overall I really loved this book. The ending was fantastic and I’m devastated the next book isn’t going to be released until next year!
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