Author: Laura Sebastian
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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.
Ash Princess is the first book in an fantastic new young adult fantasy series that leave readers begging for more. I enjoy reading fantasy but I never seem to get that deep into most of them, but I slipped right inside this world and didn't want to come back out. Its world-building was wonderful and instantly transported me to Thora/Theo's world. When I found out that this was the author's debut novel, I was floored. I never would have guessed in a million years. The story was expertly written, flowed with ease, and showcased the author's natural storytelling and writing talent. She's an author to keep an eye on, which I certainly will be since this is just the beginning of a new series.
The plot wasn't completely unique, but it's really hard to come by any novel that you can say is truly original anymore. There was a lot happening during the story - a dominating kingdom that made slaves of and killed the previous people that lived there, intricate court politics with backstabbing and traitors, secrets alliances and treason. And - of course - forbidden romance. Although these plot traits can be found in a ton of other novels, the author put her own stamp on them and made them her own. And I honestly loved every part of it. I don't want to go deep into the plot and every single thing that happened, but it's full of everything I listed above and more. I found it exciting and reading as fast as I could to see what was going to happen next. The author also used tons of detailed descriptions and vivid imagery to really bring this world and the characters to life. I felt like I was right beside Theo the entire time and experienced everything along with her.
The main character - Theodosia or Theo - was fascinating and well rounded. She was a complex and realistic character, and I immediately connected with her right from the beginning of the prologue. She's been through so much in the past decade, but even though she's been basically broken - she keeps a flame of hope in her heart about escaping and being freed. She remembers who she really is - who she's supposed to be - and then becomes determined to do everything in her power to help her people and make those who tortured them for years pay. Her character really changes, grows, and matures throughout the story and I loved watching it happen. She comes into her own and starts becoming the strong queen her people need and her mother knew she could be one day. One other thing I have to mention is that the author used the first person point of view and told the story from Theo's perspective. This is by far my favorite writing style and I'm so happy she chose to write it this way. It made connecting and identifying with the characters - especially Theo - so easy and made it almost impossible not to fall into her world. The secondary characters were also rounded and had unique personalities and flaws, which made them all realistic as well. I enjoyed getting to know each of them on a personal level and I hope to keep learning more about them in the coming books. I can't wait to see where the next book will take Theo and the rest of the gang and what obstacles they'll face. I very highly recommend this book to fans of the genre and readers looking for a realistic fantasy with a very strong female lead.
I live in NYC with my extraordinarily fluffy dog, Neville.