Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Ash & BrambleTitle: Ash & Bramble
Author: Sarah Prineas
Series: Ash & Bramble
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: September 15th, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)

The summary of Ash & Bramble from Goodreads:

A prince.
A ball.
A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight.

The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stitched, as it leads to happily ever after.

But it is not the true Story.

A dark fortress.
A past forgotten.
A life of servitude.

No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems like freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles Pin in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight. To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between her prince and another—the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny.

It seems like there’s been more fairytale retellings lately. Growing up on fairytales means I tend to be a little critical of these books, just because they were some of the first stories I ever heard. Ash & Bramble takes a look at fairytales from a different perspective, and it really works.

The Good:

Ash & Bramble is not quite the lighthearted Disney version of Cinderella. Instead, this version of Cinderella is part of a larger whole, where stories must be recreated constantly. Stories have gained power and the Godmother helps ensure all the stories continue to work. Pin remembers nothing about her Before, the time before she became part of the Godmother’s fortress, working as a seamstress. But she knows she wants to know the truth about what is beyond the fortress walls.

I really liked Pin. She is not content to sit by and work for the Godmother for hours on end without any happiness. She wants more and she finds a way to fight back when she meets the shoemaker. Together they attempt to break free from the Godmother’s power.

Even after they escape the fortress, I like Pin’s character. She won’t be forced into the role the story wants her to play. Without understanding the larger forces at play, she tries to sort out her place in the world based on what she wants to chose instead of what others want to force her to do.

Shoe, the shoemaker, is really sweet and determined. I liked how he was able to play a part and help Pin discover who she is. He learns about the power stories have and wants to try and break the cycle. He understands that a life that is predetermined, without any chance to stray, is not a life at all.

I felt for the Prince. His role had always been to come in, sweep the Cinderella character off her feet, and they’d live “happily ever after” in the castle. He doesn’t quite have the same determination of Shoe and Pin to break out of the story and to find his own way.

The pacing of the novel was good. There was enough time between events that I was able to calm down right before my heart would start racing again. Everything worked together really well to get across the idea that free will is important and what makes people interesting and life important. People should have power over their own choices, something Pin and Shoe fight for throughout the novel.

The Bad:

Overall, the book didn’t have many issues. The only thing I wish was explained more was how the world of the Godmother and Story fit into the real world. All these people are disappearing from the “real world” of the novel to be taken into the Godmother’s realm, but there was never really an explanation of how the Story world and the non-story world fit together.

The Recommendation:

This is a good book for people who enjoy darker fairytales. It’s not a light, bubbly story like the Disney Cinderella, but it’s just as interesting. It takes a different look at the role of characters in a fairytale and examines whether or not the characters are really free in their decisions. I enjoyed this book and definitely think it’s worth reading.

Purchasing Links:

Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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