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.
Title: Ash Princess
Authors: Laura Sebastian
Genre: young adult, fantasy
Release Date: April 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
I absolutely love this book! I was instantly drawn in by the complexity of Theodosia’s character – her identity crisis and her internal conflict in this fantasy world conquered and colonised by the Kalovaxians and their king – the Kaiser. The fact that her name had been intentional changed from Princess Theodosia Eirene Houzzara, to Lady Thora, the Ash Princess amongst the Kalovaxians also physically and metaphorically explored the clash between her old identity and her new identity that has instigated her into being a mentally broken girl. The catalyst of the story occurs when she is forced to kill someone she deeply loves to show her obedience and loyalty to the Kaiser. She is a deep and complex character undergoing constant internal struggles, suffering from severe Stockholm syndrome, especially with her relationship to her deceitful friend Lady Crescentia.
I love the world Sebastian created. The polytheistic religions of Astrea and Kalovaxia were influenced by Ancient Rome and Greece – so I’m a sucker for anything from the ancient world and mythology. The lifestyle Theo has is a great mix of the medieval world and the ancient world, especially shown through fashion and the courts.
There is quite a lot of violence – physical and emotional abuse, but it doesn’t go into any gory details. It’s all about how Theo becomes mentally strong and resilient in the world she’s living in. I love the fact that from her horribly subjected position in the kingdom she is able to methodically plan her vengeance, while also understanding the moral and ethical ramifications of her actions. I also loved the juxtaposition of Kalovaxian Prinz Soren and Astrean-born Blaise. And the last 100 pages I couldn’t put down – I was on the edge of my seat wondering how this was going to end!
There is so much to say about why I love this book, but I’ll start going into spoilers, so I’ll stop here. It’s a must read for any lovers of mythology, fantasy and ancient history. I can’t wait for the next book in this trilogy!
My favourite quotes from the book are:
“My mother was known as the Fire Queen, regal and strong.
But I am the Ash Princess, a living joke.” – Page 38
“It’s more of a symbol than anything else, after all.
The food, the music, the clothes are all Astrean, but Astreans themselves – ourselves – are no longer allowed to exist.” – Page 42
5 / 5 stars
For more information:
Visit Laura Sebastian’s website.
Check out more of my book reviews here.