Theodosia was only six when her mother was murdered in front of her and the Kaiser stole her throne and kingdom. Theo was then kept as a prisoner for the next decade in her own castle while being dubbed the Ash Princess, a name of shame. When she is forced by the Kaiser to do the unthinkable, like kill someone, she finally decides that this mockery of a life is no longer enough. She decides that she must break free and take back the throne that is rightfully hers.
I know, I know. This is a classic young adult princess fantasy where the throne was stolen from her, she has to fight to reclaim it, and we’ll even throw in a love triangle just to spice it up a little. Now, I know this type of story has been done before. Many times.
With that being said, this story was FUN. While also a little dark and gory, which is right up my alley. This story about Theo and her people trying to break free from a tyrants rule is utterly entertaining to read and a true page turner. I found myself not being able to put this book down simply because I was enjoying the story so much!
It does leave a lot to be desired plot wise, some things just don’t seem to make sense to me but maybe they do to others. One I want to point out is the fact that this tyrant, Kaiser, imprisoned the only heir to the throne instead of just killing her. In the story it is explained away but to me it would have made more sense if the Kaiser wanted to make sure his rule went uncontested if he just offed the only person that could pose a threat. But, I digress.
Other than some sketch plot points, this book is dark as f*ck.
Theo’s people are described as having dark skin and hair while the Kaiser and his court are white with blonde hair and blue eyes. Racism abound, Theo’s country is conquered and her people enslaved. Everyone goes through some truly horrific shit. All while Theo is being mentally and physically abused up in the castle (graphic whippings, racial slurs, many more. So, trigger warnings for those and similar ideals)
I think because of all these terrible hardships Theo goes through it makes her a more interesting and entertaining character to see grow and develop throughout the story. Now, I’m not saying characters that don’t go through hardships aren’t interesting, please don’t take my statement that way. I just mean, Theo was a Princess with a kingdom being handed to her so without something intercepting that she would have been a flat and uninteresting character. We get to see true character development in this story. We see her begin the story defeated, fearful, depressed. As the story continues though and she has to make hard decisions that affect her and her people we end up with a character that is no longer defeated but hopeful. No longer fearful but something almost equally as terrifying, hateful. SHE becomes something to fear, and a Queen that her country deserves.
And then in classic young adult fantasy there is of course a trope that many tend to hate, a love triangle. Kind of. Theo finds herself getting cozy to Prince Soren while also being confused about a childhood friend, and I can’t even bring myself to even remember his name now. This part of the story honestly made me want to skim and skip ahead to the action. Both ‘relationships’ seem meaningless. To me they both seemed forced into the story for the sake of having a love interest. I honestly would prefer Theo to be large and in charge by herself without needing a man to help her. But, what’s a Princess without a Prince? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I think Lady Smoke (the sequel, releasing February 5th!) will expand on the world built in Ash Princess and give us a more in depth look into the characters I have come to admire and would be utterly depressed if anything bad happened to them. This story may be one that’s been done before but I’m hard pressed to think of one that’s as fun to read as this one is.