Ash Princess: Let the Queen Rise

4/5 Stars

Author: Laura Sebastian

Publisher/Imprint: Delacorte Press

Edition: Hardcover, 433 Pages

Publication Date: April 24, 2018

A Spine that Shines? Almost…

Initial Thoughts & the Plot

This book is not bad for a debut. It just doesn’t quite have the same amount of five-star oomph as something like Sky in the Deep or An Ember in the Ashes did. I could tell a lot of effort went into Ash Princess. That being said, I agree with other reviewers who say Ash Princess doesn’t really introduce anything “new” to the realm of YA fantasy. “Old” is not necessarily a bad thing if the book still manages to be engaging and keep the reader entertained.

However, I have to be honest; for several hundred pages, I was simply bored with this plot. Yes, the book opens with a bang, and Theo suffers through some really difficult situations within the first few chapters. But after those first few chapters, the story seems to lag until the last hundred pages pick up the pace again. It simply loses momentum in the middle chunk, the majority of which seems to be Theo meditating internally upon her own misery and the suffering of her people – with a bit of court drama thrown in. But there is only so much I want to hear about how miserable she is before I expect some action to happen. But it didn’t really happen until near the end. Perhaps the novel was a bit longer than necessary.

The Characters & Romance

Theo is a strong young lady who has suffered a lot at the hands of the Kaiser and other Kalovaxians. As such, some of her actions don’t make complete sense to me. I found myself really annoyed at her faith in Cress. Theo does show a good amount of determination at times, but there are other times where she can’t seem to make up her mind about some things.

Cress seems really petty, selfish, and mean. I thought it took Theo way too long to come to her senses about Cress. Theo knows from the beginning that Cress is the daughter of the man who killed her mother. Thus, I found it difficult to believe she would be so trusting of Cress, even if the girl did try to protect her from school bullies. Cress really sees Theo as a plaything, a creature who’s significantly beneath her on the social ladder.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite feeling the romance with either guy. I didn’t feel any deep, emotional tug toward either. In my opinion, Blaise seemed like he could use a bit more development. Soren was too trusting of Theo. He seems too easily swayed by his emotions at the end; he doesn’t even seem mad once he realizes what Theo is up to. I kind of had a hard time accepting all the explicit declarations of love that were thrown around. If Theo had had more moments alone with one or both of the guys, maybe the romance would feel more convincing; but as it is now, the court drama and her miserable thoughts kind of take over the show. And what was the foundation for her feelings toward Soren? By the end, I think I’m leaning more towards Blaise since he and Theo actually share more of a history together from their past.

The other characters seem to be more in the background, and the Kaiser is your typical corrupt conqueror.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this book was a good start. It managed to make me interested in reading the sequel. The last 100 pages had a good amount of action that kept me turning the pages, and I am curious to find out how Theo will defeat the Kaiser. Will she learn how to use fire magic? What will happen to Blaise? I really think the sequel has potential to be much more than this first book, and it will likely have a large impact on the success of the trilogy. Let’s see if Queen Theodosia really will “rise” to the occasion.

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