Hello happy readers. I don't know about where you are but here in South Georgia it has been raining pretty non-stop for the last two weeks. Basically it makes me want to curl up with a book and/or nap constantly. Even as I type this a nap is calling my name as the drizzle continues. Still I am excited to have had the time to finish another new release book that doubles as a debut book that had been on my anticipated reads list. And let me tell you it was more than I hoped. What book you ask? AshPrincess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) by Laura Sebastian.
Theodosia has lived more of her life as a captive in her own palace after the Kaiser took over her country and murdered her mother, the Fire Queen, when she was only six. Now at sixteen she has lived longer as a captive, regularly abused and ridiculed in the court at the Kaisers whims, than as a the true ruler. She should be the queen but he mocks her as an Ash Princess. She has become used to her life but one day the Kaiser pushes Theodosia further than she thought she could handle and instead of breaking she remembers who she really is and that surviving is not enough and she must do what she can to take down the Kaiser and save what is left of her people.
We are taken right into her world and it is harsh and cruel. She is a symbol and kept under extreme conditions, all Astreans are. Theodosia, Theo, is very anxious and nervous knowing even if she follows every rule and does everything she can the Kaiser will always change the rules and find a way to punish her. Her life, while not that of a slave in the mines risking being driven mad by the magic or poorly fed, she is just as much a slave. She is interesting as she comes to terms with things. She has to keep repeating it to herself given she doesn't want to risk losing it again. It came at a cost. The weight of this upbringing really shapes Theo and the way she carries herself.
There are a lot of darker tones to this book and they are made clear from the start. This is a land that was conquered and that isn't something that happens peacefully. So the world is shown as brutal but it's done in a way that gets the point across without being gratuitous, in my opinion. There is a lot happening with Theo coming into her own for sure as she gets to know the only Astrean's she's had contact with since she was a child, Blaise whom she knew as a child and others. She also has grown to be friends with Cress who has taken her under her wing of limited protection from other Kalovaxians as the daughter to the right hand of the Kaiser. And now Soren, the Kaisers son, is back from battle and he seems less evil than his father and proves he might be the key to her crazy plan.
I loved getting to know everyone and Theo as she got to know herself. She has vague memories of life before and was not raised to be a queen by any means. She has spent her whole life surviving. Now she has a purpose and has to push down old fears even as circumstances grow more dangerous as she continues to push forward. There is magic too. It is limited in this book. The gems her people have been enslaved to mine, one small one in the hands of a true guardian could cause such power, but the Kalovaxians use them as bobbles and product. We hear what they do but don't get to see their full power though I hope we learn more in the next book. And then there is romance. A triangle of sorts really. I enjoyed that both grew from different sides of the coin. With Soren she is playing on him to get information and protection it is strategy but things are never that easy when you have to get someone to fall for you a part of you must be in there too.
I really enjoyed this book. There were some things at the end that have me really amped up and excited for book two for sure but it didn't leave us at a huge cliffhanger, which I appreciate. I am ready to see what happens next though I have some theories. The book had it's predictable moments for sure as anyone who has enjoyed some YA Fantasy some things you expect but it had it's own unique voice and I enjoyed taking the ride. I was captivated through the story and the audiobook was really good, I love the accent it was read in. I highly recommend this debut!