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.
I received a finished copy of this novel from Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
Trigger Warning – This novel features physical and mental abuse as well as rape – there is no rape scene, however it is mentioned having previously occurred and threatened at times to the main character.
Ash Princess is a strong novel featuring an empowering female main protagonist. Full of magic, betrayal, twists and turns. This novel is full of surprises, it will leave the reader turning each page in eager anticipation.
Told from the perspective of Theo, also known as Thora, Theodosia and the Ash Princess – Theo is the only surviving member of the royal family of Astrea. Her country and home conquered by the Kalovaxians when she was only six years old. Theo, now a young woman/teenager has faced years of abuse from the Kaiser (King of Kalovaxians), she has been punished for uprisings, any deaths of the Kaiser soldiers and just for the Kaiser’s entertainment.
Theo suffers from PTSD, which is shown at multiple points throughout the novel as she tries to overcome the trauma of her past. She is brave and strong but also fragile at times, she isn’t this perfect character, she is learning to grow into who she needs to be but it isn’t an easy road, nor does it have easy decisions. She is forced to do and say things that will forever stay with her. But she will not be silenced forever...
The characters within Ash Princess are all damaged in different ways, they are also strong in their own ways as well. They provide a balance of different personalities within the novel and an intriguing premise of how the different personalities will work in the next book.
There is of course romance – a little bit of a love triangle – which I am not a fan of; however, this does not last too long.
As mentioned in my trigger warning this novel features heavy subjects – this novel isn’t just about a Princess reclaiming her throne, it is also about the oppression of an occupied country taken by force. What the occupants of that country go through when their lives are overturned, the brutality that they faced and still face. Eyes to the ground and lips sealed shut is the only way to survive… for now.
The Elemental magic in this novel is intriguing. Not everyone is gifted with abilities, you have to be blessed by the Gods. Which leads to the characters questioning if the gods are even real and if there is an ‘After’ – given that the Gods that the Asterians worship have not come to their rescue during this devastating oppression.
The plot of this novel moved quickly, but not too quickly – as strange as that sounds. It was well spaced, however I did feel that it was a long novel at the same time. I am really contradicting myself here, but I have no other way of explaining it.
There was some great plot twists and the ending to the novel – I DID NOT EXPECT THAT PLOT BOMB – I need book two NOW.
I need to add that the one thing that really bothered me in this novel was the spelling of Prinz and Prinzessin – it just wasn’t required to spell it like that in my opinion.
In conclusion, I loved this book and the strong characters – I am eagerly awaiting the second novel!