I have, in the past, read books that are very textbook fantasy YA and really enjoyed them.
There’s been nothing incredibly special about them, but sometimes you just want a little bit of the familiar. You want court gossip, falling in love with a prince, and the beginnings of a revolution or a scandal.
But the problem with Ash Princess was that it was textbook fantasy YA mixed with …inaction.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are many ways in which a female character can be strong. As I’ve laid out in my post Ms Snarky Sword Wielder, a strong female character does not always mean she’s ‘one of the boys’, fighting, wanting to wear trousers instead of dresses, and scoffing at the idea of love (but falling in love anyway). I love female characters who get scared, overwhelmed, or use their knowledge to infiltrate and conquer with their words, their influence, rather than their fists.
But the amount of times protagonist Theodosia doesn’t have to deal with things because others are doing it for her, when she’s supposed to be the one saving her people, is a bit ridiculous. I have to keep reminding myself that Theo is just as downtrodden as her people; she’s been brainwashed and left complacent. She rolls with things because she has to, but at the same time, I feel like I wanted to wake her up because she just had no fight in her, despite us being told she now does.
It was different when she had no fight and we could see why, but when she’s given her call to action? Still nothing, yet it’s supposed to be there.
There’s a scene in particular where her allies tell her to not worry about another kingdom being attacked because they didn’t help them when they were attacked. HOWEVER, they were attacked by 80,000 soldiers, while this kingdom is made up of 1,000 people. 1,000 PEOPLE. I’m sorry, but do you really think 1,000 CIVILIANS would have made a dent in 80,000 TRAINED SOLDIERS? And then Theo just agrees! I could see her in a room just shrugging and going “Mmmkay.”
Eventually, she does have a change in conscience and says something like “Hmmm, maybe we should at least warn them.” Considering she’s supposed to be this caring princess, she just seems a bit glazed over. Which would be fine, if she was supposed to be portrayed that way.
I think Theo’s character is what annoyed me the most. However, I did enjoy the plot and the magic system. I especially liked the end, and it led me to change my mind about reading the sequel.
As I’ve said in the past, I do like my female characters angry and vengeful. But of course, not every character is going to be this way. And I can’t expect it every time. But Ash Princess seemed like the kind of story where the main character, down trodden and beaten, would see this opportunity to rip the sh*t out of some people. I would have loved to see her gradually become more and more bloodthirsty towards her captors, to the people who stole her land. Especially because as the story progresses, she’s given more agency.
But, here’s to Lady Smoke, hopefully making her vengeful as hell.
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.
Publication Date: 14th June 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆
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