Book Review: Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Title: Ash & Bramble
Series: Standalone
Author: Sarah Prineas
Sale Date: September 15, 2015
Age: 13 And Up
Genre: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 464 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Buy: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit…

The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story.

Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.

Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.

Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.

ASH & BRAMBLE is a unique take on fairy tales with plenty of twists, and where Happily Ever Afters are made at someone else's expense!

ASH & BRAMBLE caught my attention with its premise of a strong heroine and reinvented version of Cinderella. As a fan of fairy tales and retellings, I wanted to know more about this mysterious Godmother, Pin the heroine, and, of course, the Shoemaker and Charming Prince! 

The setting of ASH & BRAMBLE takes place partly in this strange Fortress where its inhabitants are forced to create the props for the "Happily Ever After" stories. I was surprised at first by how stark it all felt. The people behind the scenes who populated it and do the work are part of the mystery, and I enjoyed the machinations behind it. Not everyone gets a chance at their "Happily Ever After" and why the Godmother is in charge all plays a big role in the storyline - a darker, twisted storyline. 

One of the strongest features of the story is how characters are pulled from familiar roles of favorite fairy tales and are cast in a new, and unexpected light. Roles are switched up in a great way. There're several characters whose lives are entwined because of the Godmother, but the main focus is on Pin, our heroine, the Shoemaker and of course, the Charming Prince. 

Pin immediately comes across a strong and determined young heroine, one trying to get to the bottom of the magic behind the "Godmother" and the "Story" while trying to obtain her freedom. I admired how she wanted to make her own ending, one not of someone else's making. My only wish was to have connected with her more on a personal level - there’s an aloofness to Pin’s character that makes you feel like she is just beyond arm's reach emotionally. Now, with the Shoemaker, a young man the has his own history at the Fortress and with the Godmother, I adored, and easily connected with him. I loved his fierce devotion to Pin, even when she did not know it, he never faltered. The Charming Prince was just that, charming. 

The romance never felt like a love triangle, but I liked how Sarah Prineas used the "Happily Ever After" theme in a darker way, making the reader want more than ever for the characters to break free of this endless story and take back their free will. The Godmother is one of those characters whose villainy makes us question the cost the "Story" has on her as well as those she brings into its reaches.

Though I found the pace slow in the beginning, the need to finds out the machinations behind the Story’s constant, endless need and its connection to the Godmother made me want to continue. Unique, dark and with unconventional twists to characters make ASH & BRAMBLE an entertaining read for fans of fairy tale retellings!