Title: Kingdom of Ash and Briars
Author: Hannah West
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date: September 15h, 2016
Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.
“She is clever, Bristal. But I hope you’re wise.”
It’s been a while since I finished this book and I still don’t know how I truly think about it. The thing is, I overall enjoyed a lot the story and everything, but I was in the middle of a reading slump, and sometimes I wasn’t really in the mood or was simply a bit bored, and I’m pretty sure this was one of the most important reasons why I ended up not loving this book.
I’ve been eyeing this book ever since it came out, and to be fairly honest, I didn’t see a lot of people talking about it, which even intrigued me more, because it had really good reviews online. So finally I ended up picking it up a couple of weeks ago.
“History likes to call one side good and the other evil. But is it bad to want to use your power to bring clean orde to the world? To archieve the peace in this land that mortals can’t archieve on their own.”
The story was actually really good, and I loved how it started. The beginning of the book was so intriguing that made me very excited to see what things were going to happen next. I think the characters were really well done, and their development throughout the book was done quite well in my opinion. I loved the magic system, and even though at the beginning I was a bit confused with some things that were happening, I ended up loving how magic worked in that world and the information provided as I kept reading the story.
However something I would have loved to see more was the retelling parts of that novel. I feel they weren’t the main focus nor really important. Sometimes you could see little snippets of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, but they were brief and didn’t add much to the story line, which made me so sad because I was really excited to discover another good retelling.
I wasn’t particulary fond of the romance, either. I feel it wasn’t really important, and it started in a really bad timing and out of nowhere, to be honest. I knew when I was almost halfway through that there would be romance, but it didn’t make sense to me and it felt a bit unecessary. Who knows, maybe I would have liked it more if I hadn’t been in a reading slump!
“Magic is given to wise and unwise alike, just like title and crowns. You could no more say it’s only used for evil that you could say every king is corrupt.”
It was really fast paced, though! Even though I wasn’t in the best mood while reading it, I have to say once I reached that half mark I flew through it. The first part was a bit slower, since a lot of information is given and the author was explaining a few things about that world and the magic system, but I’d say it wasn’t that hard to follow.
The ending was a bit convinient and unrealistic. It’s kind of a personal opinion, but when there’s a war, or any type of fight between “good” and “evil”, I expect some things to happen, and this didn’t reach my expectations, which was a bit disappointing. Some things that happened towards the end were really convinient, and they felt a bit odd to me.
Overall, I think this was a nice and solid read, even though I had a few issues with somethings that happened in the story. I think that me being in that slump made me do a much more crytical review, so I’m debating whether or not re-read it another time where I’m in the mood and finally put all my thoughts together!
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