Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed “Ash Princess.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she’s not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but one: Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe.
When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can’t keep her feelings and memories pushed down any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser’s warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn’t expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Or for her rebel allies to challenge her friendship with the one person who’s been kind to her throughout the last hopeless decade: her heart’s sister, Cress.
Cornered into impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she’s willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she’s willing to sacrifice to become queen.
I really loved this book and found it so hard to put down once I got into it.
I will start with some trigger warnings though. There is a lot of abuse in this book. Physical and mental. Also, slavery/captivity. There are hints of rape, but it’s never actually discussed. Just slightly hinted at a couple times. There are forced marriages and deaths/murders.
Theodosia was taken as a child after her mother was killed in front of her. She was regularly beaten until she accepted that her name was Thora and that she was done with her past life. Thora became friends with Cress, even though it was Cress’ father that killed her mother. Cress stood up for Thora and they became close. During this time, the Kaiser often had Thora whipped for things that weren’t her fault. It was a way to continue controlling her and to make sure she knew who was in power.
Theo’s people were killed in large numbers, but there were still some out there trying to get their land back. Some of them were gifted by the gods with power. Gems increased those powers for them. Theo’s mom was the Fire Queen. The Kaiser makes Thora (Theo) wear a crown molded from ashes that fall down all over her while she wears it. He calls her the “Ash Princess”.
Thora starts spending time with Soren, the Prinz. She wants to hate him, but she finds herself falling for him. He is different from his father, but she can’t forgive all the death’s on his hands. Cress is supposed to marry the Prinz, so this also causes problems. During this time, Thora finds some old allies and they come up with a plan to divide the Kalvaxians and get away. Thora wants to get her land and people back. Part of this plan includes killing Soren and Cress. Thora wonders if she can do it when the time comes.
“We are not defined by the things we do in order to survive. We do not apologize for them,” she says quietly, eyes never leaving mine. “Maybe they have broken you, but you are a sharper weapon because of it. And it is time to strike.”
I really enjoyed the writing style and the pacing of this book. The power in the gems really intrigued me. There were some twists and betrayals and I cannot wait to see what happens in book two next year. It can’t come out fast enough for me.
I gave this book 5 stars. I can see why some people won’t like it, but I loved reading this one. Thank you to Laura Sebastian for my copy of the arc.
*Quote was taken from an arc and may change before final publication.
Have you read Ash Princess yet? What did you think of it? Are you looking forward to book two?