Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced reader copy of this book
Upon learning that the Ash Princess was going to be another "Underdog Heroine Out to Save Her Impoverished And Abused People," I was, quite honestly, bored. Soooo many of those already out there. So we really need another? Certainly NOT! However, this particular heroine just doesn't come off like the others. Perhaps it is her unique status as the "Ash Princess" or maybe her surroundings or back story, or maybe the writing was just so good that I can overlook any tropes that might appear. Whatever it is, Theo just isn't like other YA book heroines. She does some things that I don't really agree with, but she does them for the right reasons and that has to count for something right? Right.
My boy, Blaise. Where do I begin? He is the stuff Book Boyfriends are made of. He held back a the right times and made himself vulnerable at the right times. And you just know there is some crazy power that he keeps at bay, but I have no doubt if Theo needed him, all bets would be off. I enjoyed this character.
The third corner of our triangle. Honestly, I pity him more than anyone else in the story, which is saying quite a bit, because there are a number of people in this story that deserve pity. He's just ordered around or tricked or used by just about everyone. He feels guilty for what he does but by the time he stands up to his father, it's too late on every side, so e threw himself into the line of fire for nothing. Pressure from everyone. No one to trust. Sadly, no one who truly cares for him...and acknowledges it. Just plain sad.
Okay, let's take a moment to discuss the real hero of this book. The biggest play in the story and arguably the most risky, and it was a thirteen year old girl. If there were more girls like Elpis in this story, there would be a pretty formidable army of teenage girls-- and really, who wants to fight an army of teenage girls.
You know, normally I just want the good guys to win. This time, I wanted the bad guys to lose. Like lose big. I wanted him ripped apart. But waiting for it- actually I think that'll make it even better. And I really want Soren to be the one who does it. I know that Theo wants it, but Soren just seems more satisfying to me.
She's kind of that spoiled best friend that you can't help liking even though their entitlement is obnoxious. Even so, until the end, I really did like her. And in the end, I still understood her. One of the great things about these characters, for the most part, even when you don't like what they're doing, you can understand why they're doing it.
There were really no big surprises with the plot as far as the MC's goals and where she wanted to end up. Even not knowing how it ended, I wasn't like, "Wow, where did that come from?" Tension continued to build through the story, however, and there was never a part that was lackluster, though that also meant that no parts really shined for me, which is fine, because that just means the whole story was pretty solid. There really wasn't anything spectacularly new. A tyrant took over a smaller country and made them slaves while his own people obeyed him out of fear. The execution of the writing made it special however, which we will get to in minute.
Solid A+ for World Building. I'm not sure of the time period, however, the place was very well-written and never did I feel I wasn't actually there. I can imagine the dungeons and the Was as the Prinze and Theo sailed under the stars. The mines, though we never actually visit them, so dark and dank that anyone would go crazy down there. The throne room, commanding and intimidating and cold.
If I were to describe the writing in this book with one word, it would be: lush. There was no choppiness. Nothing was rushed or slow. The pace, as mentioned, was steady and engaging. Characters were fleshed out and we saw angles of everyone mentioned. Even the Kaiser had a backstory. Where I expected action scenes to be hurried, they were fully described without being drawn out.
Recommended to: fantasy fans, romance fans, Maggie Steifvater and Sarah J. Maas fans