My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Published: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, War Setting, Romance, Love Triangle, Princes & Princesses
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed “Ash Princess.” Pretending to be empty-headed and naive when she’s not enduring brutal whippings, she pushes down all other thoughts but one: Keep the Kaiser happy and he will keep you safe. When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can’t keep her feelings and memories pushed down any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser’s warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn’t expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. Or for her rebel allies to challenge her friendship with the one person who’s been kind to her throughout the last hopeless decade: her heart’s sister, Cress. Cornered into impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she’s willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she’s willing to sacrifice to become queen.
I hope you will not fall off your chair if I tell you that you have read this story before.
Maybe once, or twice, or a hundred of times, but you most certainly have.
Girl loses kingdom and family. Girl wants kingdom back and boy helps her. Girl manipulates her way surprisingly mainly into—instead of out of—trouble.
Nothing stands out. Not even the idea of multiple gods and goddesses and gems that hold power that can be used by and on people. There is the illusion of a world-building but it is just that… an illusion.
So while you’ve read this story before, it’s true that you haven’t read it from Theo’s point of view. In the beginning, I was sure I would love it. After all, unlike most fantasy YA heroines, Theo *pretends* to be weak and a damsel in distress.
The pretending entertained me. Except, when you think about it, whether she is aware of her own manipulative actions (like faking fear to let a guy protect her) or not, it remains that she isn’t acting all that differently from other fantasy YA heroines.
I simply don’t care. Now I don’t mean that I want Theo to crumble and turn to real ashes, but if my powers of prediction are correct, that is not going to happen. Otherwise, there’s no story to tell, and so I don’t care to read the whole trilogy. (Pssst… I can also read hands, for a small fee.)
Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that there’s a love triangle? Surprise! Now you’ve fallen completely, haven’t you? Well indeed there is. A very—wait for it—predictable and annoying one.
What a waste of a really amazing cover (oh and potential). Though, was there potential to begin with? The only reason I read it is because I have a thing for princess stories or so I have claimed recently.
But now I feel like a fraud. Grrr. I might have to rethink my preferences.
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