I wasn’t entirely sure about this book. The cover is so similar to Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen that I instantly assumed it would be a similar storyline or typical ‘hard done by girl has powers and becomes ruler’. I’m quite middle of the road about it really, I didn’t love it, but I wanted to know what happened and I kind of cared about the plot. I audio’d (is that a word?) this one, and for some reason I get the impression I would’ve liked it better if I’d physically read it.
Although Ash Princess was in some ways pretty predictable (SPOILER ALERT), there was something different about the main character’s background. It’s a different take on the secret princess, in that she knows she should be ruling but can’t. I liked that it could easily have become a Stockholm Syndrome eye roller, but she clearly and thoroughly hated her captor. The extreme fear is far more believable and gripping.
As is usual for me, I didn’t particularly like the main character. Theo doesn’t seem to have very much conviction in anything that she does or thinks. The fact that she regularly is punished by whippings and beatings, to me suggests that she is physically strong enough to take them. But she constantly worries that she’ll be unable to do physical tasks during her escape or in the lead up to it. Her emotions flit all over the place; does she love Soren? Doesn’t she? Does she love Blaise? Doesn’t she? Is Cress her Bestie? Isn’t she? I get that her entire nation is more important than Soren or Cress, and she definitely makes the right decisions, but she doesn’t seem to feel an appropriate amount of guilt or regret or sadness at all.
The ‘magic’ part of Ash Princess which made it a fantasy novel, was the same thing that lets a lot of fantasy novels down. It’s not thought out enough…it doesn’t really make sense. I don’t really understand who can do magic, what that magic consists of or how it works, how do the gems work…I had far too many questions about the magic element. It feels as though some of this was done on purpose, to draw the reader in and make them want to find out more in the next book…but I wanted more in the way of general understanding of it. It’s clear that Theo is going to be wildly powerful, and I’m good with seeing how that goes, but I’d be far more interested in that if I knew what it fully meant.
I think overall the book was pretty slow, a lot of drawn out descriptions and flowery thoughts, but the ending saved it. I do enjoy when a pathetic character gets some balls! And I liked the plot twists that kept coming. I’d like to know what happens to Soren, he surely must carry on playing a large part. I’m interested to see the characters develop, although I can’t really bring myself to care about Blaise and his obvious Mine Madness, the plotline there is very easy to see coming…but I do hope to be pleasantly surprised.
I’m unlikely to recommend this one if I’m being honest…however I will definitely read the next one in the trilogy when it gets to audio!