Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas

Kingdom of AshesTitle: Kingdom of Ashes
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing Series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: February 23rd, 2016
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)The summary of Kingdom of Ashes from Goodreads:

Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss, Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale. But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

I thought A Wicked Thing was an interesting take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. It looked at the story from the start of the “Happily Ever After” and showed how that really wasn’t possible. Aurora had been asleep for decades, sleeping through countless cultural and personal changes. The world she wakes up to is not the world she fell asleep in. Kingdom of Ashes looks at the next part of the story, where Aurora is trying to decide how she will fit into this new world and what actions she must take to make the world a better place.

The Good:

I liked how Aurora was more confident in herself. I thought she was, understandably, a little too accommodating and self-conscious. However, she had just been awoken by a kiss from a stranger into a world where she knows no one, where she understands few things, and is being used as a pawn. So while I understood her confidence issues, I also hoped she’d grow to be larger than them. In Kingdom of Ashes, she did just that.

I also liked how Finnegan was more of a supporter than a pusher. By that I mean he helped Aurora find her own power instead of forcing her to. He dropped bread crumbs, but he ultimately let her decide what to do and how to handle the situation.

But back to Aurora, since this is her story. In addition to being more confident, she’s trying to decide where she fits in this world she woke up in. The wants to help the people of her kingdom, but doesn’t know in what capacity. She doesn’t know what would end up helping them most. If that’s her, or if Prince Rodric would be able to help them most. She knows there are many options, but doesn’t know how to select the best one to fight for.

There’s a newer element of dragons that I thought was done well, for the most part. They gave Aurora a new sense of purpose and power that I helped her grow in confidence. Her connection to them made her realize, even more, that she has power and she shouldn’t be afraid to use it, as long as she understands how to control it.

The Bad:

I wish the ending with Celestine was more defined and wrapped up. I don’t need everything to be wrapped up in a perfect bow. I can be left with some questions. But I felt as though there wasn’t enough of an ending with Celestine. It’s too open, with too many questions.

I also wished the timeline and reason for the dragons was flushed out a little more. I can understand why it wasn’t, but I would have liked just a little more information on all of them.

The Recommendation:

This isn’t the best fairy tale retelling, but the series as a whole does a good job of examining the after the kiss storyline. Each book has its weaknesses, but overall it’s a good series. Kingdom of Ashes shows how far Aurora has grown in her strength and I thought it was, overall, a good ending to the series, even with the questions left at the end of the book.

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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