September 3, 2015

Review: Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas
Publication date: Sept 15, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy
Source: Received via Edelweiss from publisher (Thanks!)
Summary: 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. (greads.com)

The good
I find myself wanting to get my hands on all the recent fairytale retellings. It’s interesting to see how authors choose to interpret these classics and while I definitely applaud the effort, it doesn’t always work for me. And Ash & Bramble was one of those cases. But that’s not to say it didn’t have aspects that did intrigue me, because it did. It’s a darker spin which was one of the cooler parts. Godmother isn’t the wonderful fairy appearing to help the heroine like we’re used to. Instead she’s this scary figure, pulling all the strings and hurting innocent people for sinister reasons we can’t decipher.

The story begins with Pin waking up in the Godmother’s fortress with no memories of who she is or how she got there. It’s a disorienting start for Pin (and me!) as she tries to figure out her place in all the madness around her. It turns out she’s a Seamstress, meant to spend all day working on ball gowns. But from day one, she’s all about she can get herself out of there — a quality I admired about her throughout the book. She’s clearly a fighter! When she makes her first big escape, she does so with a young Shoemaker (better known as Shoe) and fellow prisoner. They barely know one another when they make their escape but they clearly feel something (romance alert!). The book actually alternates between the two and while the switching did feel jarring at times, it was important to see events through both of their eyes.

As we learn more about the godmother, her role in the happenings around them and the different supporting characters (unexpected cameos and even more interesting interpretations from the author!), it was pretty inventive to see how the author made it all work together. But most of all, I like the underlying message of her version of Cinderella’s story: that the choice of what her happily ever after should be is up to no one else but her.

(Major) reservations
I somewhat mentioned them above — like the jarring pacing and some of the disorientation in the beginning. But I think the biggest thing I struggled with was that by the end of the book, there needed to be better explanations for the characters and the plot. I knew who Pin, Shoe and the other characters were but only on a superficial level. They never quite came alive to me in the way I hoped they would. Then the fairytale lore and plot/villain wasn’t nearly explained as much as it should’ve been. I still had questions and wish we had gotten more backstory on everything.

Do I recommend?
It wasn’t for me and isn’t something I’d personally recommend. But if you're curious about fairytale retellings, check it out and let me know what you think!

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

Who is your favorite fairytale character?
The tough part about answering this question was that I had to remind myself that the Disney versions of the fairy tales I know are NOT the real versions. For the former, my favorite is easily The Little Mermaid. But for the latter, I had to do a little bit of digging to remember the actual stories and wow! They are dark and totally not child-friendly. After skimming through a few characters I remembered, the story that stood out to me was The Six Swans. It's about 6 brothers who are cursed by an evil queen to turn into swans, and their one and only sister who is their only hope to be saved from this fate.

2 comments:

  1. This looks like such a fun read! Awesome review!

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  2. I really think that Ash & Bramble had the potential to be a story that completely swept me off my feet! Sadly, the lack of connection and the odd pacing were why that didn't happen for me. Still, I think it was a clever twist on the idea of fairytales and the characters in them!

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