Ash Princess By Laura Sebastian
Release Date: April 24, 2018
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.
Please note that my reviews may contain slight spoilers in regards to storylines.
Ash Princess is a beautiful, suspenseful novel that follows a sixteen year old girl who has seen more pain and suffering in her life than most people will ever see. Her mother, the Fire Queen, was killed in front of her when she was six years old as their country was captured. Ever since then, she has lived as a tortured prisoner, given a title of a “Lady” and “Ash Princess” as a joke to the entire court. She is kept at court to be of use to the Kaiser that had her mother killed when he took over, to take the whippings when one of her people, all enslaved, do anything wrong. She is the guest of honor at court, wearing a crown of ash that crumbles over her face, as an ongoing joke and torment from the people around her. She is stripped of her identity Theodosia, and lives her life as Lady Thora, a girl who is just trying to stay alive in the kingdom that ended her country and killed her mother and her people.
When Theo (known as Thora) is forced to do the unthinkable and become a murderer to one of her own Astrean people, someone who is the only piece of her mother she has left, something inside her breaks in a different way than she was broken before. She finds a will to fight for herself. She is willing to do anything. With an old friend there to help her, Theo quickly schemes a way to get her crown back, save what’s left of her enslaved people, and get revenge on those who made them suffer.
Theo/Thora is a character who shows you that nothing is black and white or perfectly right or wrong. She knows what she needs to do, but you will see again and again that she can empathize with people who have done terrible things and she finds herself conflicted over who she is willing to betray to save herself. She begins falling for her own plan, making her break more and more with each person she must hurt. And yet, Theo will surely come out stronger. She struggles between a love for someone from her past that is familiar and comforting, and a growing affection for someone she should hate more than anyone, and yet, she can’t seem to fully love or hate either one of them.
However, this isn’t a love story, because Theo is willing to break her own heart over and over for the bigger picture. Every time Theo seems to have it all figured out and is on the verge of escape, there is always a twist that makes the pieces of the puzzle come together. When Theo finally comes to the point of action on the night of her plan of escape, she must do something completely unthinkable to someone she loves, yet the Ash Princess has nothing left of herself to burn. She will betray one of the boys she loves, yet she will also learn a terrible fate for the other. She will lose friends and family, yet she will gain an entirely new set of friends and family who loves her as Theodosia, Queen of Astrea.
The most relatable thing about Theo is that she is more than one person. She is Lady Thora, the Ash Princess. Broken, scared, and needing to be rescued. She is Queen Theodosia of Astrea. Fire Queen, strong, and willing to do anything to save her people. And in the middle of it all, she is just Theo. A confused, conflicted, determined teenager.
I don’t want to give away too much regarding the storylines and characters, but Ash Princess is a stunning and intoxicating novel for anyone who is a fan of YA romance, adventure, and anything surrounding royal courts. There are magical aspects, yet the novel still keeps characters that ring true to teenagers. Fans of TV shows like Reign or The Tudors will surely enjoy this novel, as well as fans of more fantasy/dystopian series such as Divergent or The Hunger Games. When this book releases in April of 2018, I highly recommend any YA reader to pick it up. The second installment will be out in Spring of 2019, Lady of Smoke.