While I do my best to NOT spoil a book, “Ash Princess” isn’t due out until April of this year- please read with caution!
In a land vibrant, and full of life, it is easy to see how Astrea can attract unwanted attention. A world where faith is abundant in the gods and goddesses that deem certain individuals worthy to wield a piece of their power. When a power hungry ruler overtakes Astrea to put a notch in his belt, and murder the queen, how can a fallen princess rise from the ashes?
Cast of characters:
Astrea: A land with peaceful people, who are empowered by gems to enhance their god and goddess given magical power (think Captain Planet here; Fire, Earth, Wind, Water). Being peaceful has it’s disadvantages, and the magical properties of the gems is a magnet to attract envious countries. The Kalovaxians take Astrea by force, including royalty. Thousands of citizens are killed, while the remaining population is forced into slavery to mine gems to be worn as mere trinkets.
The Kaiser: A brute leader who takes whatever he can get. He uses a country’s resources until they are bled dry, packs up everyone and moves to the next country like he’s checking off his “to-do” list. Leads his people by fear.
Thora (Theodosia): Our main character; the book starts her off at the age of 7, witnessing the death of her mother, the Queen of Astrea. With a broken kingdom at her feet, the fallen princess of Astrea becomes the “Ash Princess”. Beaten and tortured to make her forget her own name and title. As her repressed citizens sporadically rise up in rebellions, she is made an example of; the number of offenses counted by scars on her back.
Crescentia (Cress): Thora’s only friend at the castle. Cress stuck up for Thora years ago when other children made fun of her. As Thora grows older she feels more like a pet than a friend. Bred for nobility, NOTHING will stand in Cress’ way of becoming a prinzess; even if it means stabbing her friend in the back.
Theyn: Cress’ father and Thora’s “torturer”, and The Kaiser’s right hand man. The Theyn killed the Queen of Astrea, and continues to kill citizens with absolutely no remorse.
Søren: The Prinz; The Kaiser’s son. Søren may be The Kaiser’s son, but he is FAR from a chip off the old block. Where his father shows sadistic pleasure in torturing Thora, Søren is sympathetic.
Hoa: Thora’s servant in the castle. Quite literally, cannot talk due to having her mouth sewn shut. The rub? It’s taken out every few days to allow her to eat and drink, and then she’s sewn back up again.
Overall, for a debut novel, I thought Laura Sebastian knocked it out of the park. “Ash Princess” creates the dystopian novel we’ve been craving; beautifully brutal. The story line is well thought out, characters have depth, and plot twists that keep your head spinning.
Overall not too many. Weird spellings (like Prinz, Prinzessin, Søren etc). There were a few slow parts where I felt as if I was taking too much info in and getting absolutely nowhere. I do tend to give a first in a series a bit of grace due to laying a foundation. The only other thing is “Ash Princess” can be extremely hard to read due to the abuse. I have a pretty strong stomach, and even I had to put the book down for a bit.
One more thing:
Whoever has been designing covers, NEEDS TO STOP! Lately there have been WAY too many block covers with crowns on them. They are getting to look too similar and NOT stand out.
“Ash Princess” as a whole, I would absolutely recommend. For being the first in the series, it really grabbed hold of my attention and didn’t let go; that rarely happens with me for a first book. Congrats Laura Sebastian and BEST of luck with your writing future!
I was chosen to receive an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. Given that fact, it has not altered my opinion on the book at all. “Ash Princess” by Laura Sebastian is due to hit shelves April 24th 2018.