ARC reviews · Book Reviews

Book Review ‘Lady Smoke’ ~ Laura Sebastian

40702154Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

Publication Date: February 12th 2019

Publisher: Pan Australia

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #2

RRP: AU$16.99

Blurb: The Kaiser murdered Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo’s country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess and humiliating her for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn’t realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.

Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage-Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser’s rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.

To get them back, she will need an army. But securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.

Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.

★/5

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Book Reviews · Mini Reviews

Mini Review ‘Ash Princess’ ~ Laura Sebastian

38126009Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Publication Date: April 24th 2018

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1

Blurb: Princess. Prisoner. Orphan. Rebel.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s 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. 

★★★★★/5

Review

You know those books that sound amazing but sit on your tbr pile for ages until you finally pick it up and it’s like HOW HAVE I NOT READ THIS BEFORE?! Ash Princess is one of those.

In the wrong hands Ash Princess could have ended up being a generic YA fantasy about a princess and her stolen crown but in Sebastian’s hands it was an epic tale of survival imbued with magic.

What makes Ash Princess so amazing is how character focused it is and how well it handles what the characters have faced. Theo has PTSD, she watched her mother die, she has been tortured by the Kaiser, the only one to have shown her any kindness is the daughter of the man who killed her mother. The Prinz isn’t let off the hook for the things he has done under his father’s commands simply because he’s a handsome, royal love interest. All of these things are examined with a depth and complexity that isn’t always seen in these types of fantasies.

Ash Princess is a dark tale of invasion and igniting the embers of a rebellion, the cost of staying alive and the desire to fight back. It’s about hope and persevering when all odds are against you.

“We are not defined by the things we do in order to survive. We do not apologize for them,’ she says quietly, eyes never leaving mine. ‘Maybe they have broken you, but you are a sharper weapon because of it. And it is time to strike.”

Content Warnings: reference to torture & one on-page whipping scene, unspoken threat of rape against the main character towards the end, mention of war atrocities, invasion.

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