Let’s dive into our boiling minds now and promise, no spoilers (let me tell you it was hard!).
Of course A is for Angy and S is for Sophie (in case you are extra tired from your long week) 😉
Chat Review with Sophie and Angy
A: Helloooo Sophie!!! <3 I’m so happy to buddy-read with you Ash Princess 😉
S: Hello Angy! I was waiting for so long to read this one and chat with you!!!
A: I’m excited and terrified!! This is my first fantasy book in ages!! What if I didn’t like it? :O But… I enjoyed it so much, more than I thought I would. Thank you for agreeing to do it!!
S. Oh but you are most welcome! I love chatting books with other bookworms 😉 And as far as Ash Princess is concerned it was a nice surprise as it held so many more topics than a classic fantasy!
A: I agree. All the topics disclosed in this book were meaningful and made the story so much more entertaining. The torture, manipulation and brain-washing in the beginning was THE best way to start the story, don’t you think?
S. Yes! I fell right into the story with this intense and hard scene. I think it was the best choice as it really did set the tone of the story. Harsh, uncompromising. Real too given the topic: a land invasion and the enslaving of its people.
Did you think it was too hard for a YA?
A: Well… Since this isn’t my usual genre, I’d say yes!! But I think young people are used to reading this kind of tragic stories. The angstier and horrific-er, the better… That’s what I gather from the best-sellers, right?
S: Yes. It was also more honest I think. Truer to what happens when a country is invaded by such unforgiving and soulless tyrant. But this first scene made me mad at Theodosia. I wanted to shout : “Fight back! Have some pride please!” On the other hand I don’t know how I would have reacted in similar circumstances… How did you feel about her?
A: I was in shock, to be honest. What she had to do was the worst thing she could have done, but she did it. But from what she said about how the Kaiser treated her for the past 10 years, I thought she had no other choice. I thought she was “protecting” herself, if that’s the correct word. But later, as the story went on, I completely understood why she acted that way. I love her, to be honest, even though I’m mad at her at the moment. Well, kinda… But we’ll talk about it later…
S: Hahaha yes I know you are mad at her 😉
Now when she changed I thought she was very courageous but she had not only to take risks for herself but become someone not very likeable sometimes. Where is the limit? What are we allowed to do to save our country? To fight evil back? Are every invaders evil? Is there no middle ground?
What did you think of it? Did it bother you or made you think? Or did you find it perfectly expected?
A: I think she and her people were very resolute to think in absolutes. If you are a Kalovaxian, then you are my enemy and you don’t deserve a second chance. And that’s bad. I understand they did so many awful things to the Astreans, Theodosia’s people, but not all of them are bad. But you are talking to a Slytherin and a person from the Dark Side—in Star Wars terms LOL—so maybe I’m not the best person to judge their actions.
S: Haha I will have to find my house one of these days! Now back to the story I think the author did a wonderful job writing conflicted characters. We are far from black and white characters here. Yes there are true black villains but you also have characters from the opposite side that are conflicted about what the Kalovaxians did to the Astreans.The same some Gremans felt conflicted about what the Nazis did to the Jews. Or any invader to enslaved people. I found it much more interesting and realistic.
A: Black is a light color for the Kaiser!!!
S: Yes I agree with you he was pure evil!
A: But yes, I agree with you and that’s why the Astreans were so absolut about their beliefs. But I think Theodosia could come to think in the shades of grey, I mean, she knew at least ONE person who was good among the Kalovaxians *CRYING MY EYES OUT* but we’ll see what happens in the next book. For now… Let’s talk about something really great that I love about this book.. THEODOSIA’S STRONG CHARACTER!!!
S: Yes you are right about her. First she had to endure torture for years. Not once but repetitive abuses. Then she always placed her people above her needs. When she decided to fight back she did it knowing she risked new abuses and her life. But she was also frightened for her friends!
A: OMG YES! There was a scene where she is whipped and she thinks she will wear her welts and bruises with pride because they have a real cause. I loved her more for that. I loved she always thought of her people. In the end with little Elpis I was devastated and I cried with Theodosia for what happened. What was the scene that moved you the most?
S: Two scenes really. One when you know who (no spoilers here) had to kill animals at the Kaiser’s order. I can’t stand it when animals are killed in books.
The second scene was after the flogging when she is back in her room and she is singing the old Astrean’s lullaby.
A: Talking about the scene after the flogging… I listened to the audiobook along with the ebook—in fact I was planning on only listening to it but I couldn’t understand the names and other words, so I got the ebook—that particular scene, when her Astrean allies sing the lullaby, was exceptionally performed in the audiobook. I loved the production, it was amazing.
S: I think the writing was smart and fitted the story perfectly. Laura Sebastian managed to convey all of Theodosia’s conflicted feelings. He despair, her hope, her rage, her determination…
A: I loved how Laura Sebastian built Theodosia’s character and I agree in everything you said. And to add awesomeness to Theodosia, Saskia Maarleveld transmitted all her feelings, emotions, the difficulty of her decisions and everything in her performance. And, she had a lovely British accent, which I always enjoy in audiobooks.
S: Now do you think the world building was original or was it like the “Nth” time you’ve heard about it?
A: Well… You are the expert here. I don’t read this genre, remember? 😛 Kidding, but for me it felt a really well developed and original story. I tried to imagine it but to be honest, I could only picture the indoors of the castles and such, hahahah looks like my brain is so used to contemporary romance.
S: Well for one I loved the map at the beginning of the book. It helps “see” the fictional world and always looks great. Second if you didn’t have imaginary beasts or words like you have with JK Rowling’s I thought the addition of the gems giving their bearers power pretty original. Now I think we will discover more in the other books!
A: *runs to the ebook to find the map* OMG THIS IS AMAZING!!!
S: So Theodosia is a fantastic character, the world building is good, the topics are really well broached and the book made me think about human’s behavior and how they never learn from their mistakes…What do you wish for the second and third installments? If you had to either improve, either add anything what would it be?
A: Well… You know what I want!!!! Not telling to prevent spoilers, but I have hope the Astreans could find a good ally in this person and they will fight the second most awful character of this book—I’ll stop here or I’ll give so many spoilers.
S: OK I am with you on what to wish for the sequel. If I had to describe this story in five words I would say: layered, realistic, harsh, conflicted, romance. What would be your words?
A: Legacy, alliance, hope, rebellion and sacrifice.
What is your rating for Ash Princess?
S: 4,5 stars. Because it had layers I did not expect. Because it was more than fantasy but broached historical topics that my great grandmother talked about aplenty. Because the characters were in shades of grey, my favorite kind of characters. Because Theodosia was brave and had to make some moves she was not proud of but for the sake of her people she did them. Because of the romance we won’t speak about as we don’t want to spoil the fun. Because there is so much potential for the sequel. And I would give 6 stars for the cover which is just to die for! You? How many stars, why and who would you recommend this book to?
A: 4.5 stars too. The audiobook performance gets 5+ Stars, because Saskia Maarleveld brought Theodosia’s story to life with her beautiful voice, perfect pace, amazing British accent and her narration brought all the rollercoaster of emotions of this story. And the story gets 4 stars because despite I loved the action, the emotion, the characters, there were some decisions Theodosia made that infuriated me to no end, and I wish there was a different outcome, but as I said before, I have hope for this and I can’t wait for Lady Smoke (coming in 2019)
S: Hahaha yes I know why you are infuriated! We can only cross our fingers here. Anyway I was really happy to have read this one with you! We go in together for lady Smoke in 2019?
A: Yes!! Count me in!! It was a great buddy read, Sophie!! Thank you!!
Now as my friend Angy listened to the audiobook as well here is an excerpt for you to judge if the narrator is good 😉
Have you read Ash Princess? Did you enjoy this “chat review”?
Oh and one last VERY IMPORTANT THING: the AMAZING header was designed by my friend Angy! The girl is gifted!!!
Thanks for reading!