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I Belong

Review: Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Ash & BrambleTitle: Ash & Bramble

Author: Sarah Prineas

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Ash & Bramble (Book  #1)

Publication Date: September 15, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062337947 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062337948 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed


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

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.

When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit . . .

Quick & Dirty: What if the godmother wasn’t always the ‘good guy’?

Opening Sentence: I know this part of my story, the beginning, maybe.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I’ve read a fair few retellings but never one like Ash & Bramble. It takes the entire concept of Happily-Ever-Afters and turns them into something sinister. In this book, each ‘successful’ fairytale ending provides the godmother with power but what happens when something, or someone, breaks the Story?

I loved Pen/Pin’s rebellious nature. Even in the direst circumstances when she has less than zero chances of escape, Pen maintains hope and forces her plans into action. She fights the power threatening to pull her into a ‘cinderella-esque’ story and attempts to create her own ending. What a fantastic female protagonist! Penn certainly changed my opinion of dainty, graceful Cinderella!

I can’t look away from her smile. Then my breath catches. She is looking at me, too, straight into my eyes. As her husband’s voice drones on, her smile doesn’t waver.
A smile, I realize, is a horrible thing if it’s held for too long.

Owen (also known as ‘Shoe’) and Pen made the perfect romantic pairing. At first, he’s terrified of getting involved with Pen’s plans of escaping the godmother’s fortress because of the likelihood of getting caught. Shoe is right to be afraid, since he’s experienced the godmother’s wrath first-hand. But Pen soon changes his mind and lights up a spark of hope.

He finds himself smiling back at her.
Her eyes widen, and then she frowns. “I’ve never seen you do that before.”
“Do what?” he asks, nervous. It’s as if they’re suddenly alone together, not in a cave crowded with other people.
“Smile, of course,” she says.
“Oh.” He thinks back. “I don’t remember ever doing it before.”

I loved that in spite of all odds he didn’t give up, even when the godmother took all Pen’s memories and forced the Prince into their Story, Shoe is determined to find Pen and make her remember. Their romance was extraordinary because they had to almost fight their ‘destiny’ for it.

Because I know very well that making my own choices and living a real life is harder in some ways than living in Story. Owen can love me and I can love him, but we still might not be able to be together.

There were many other characters worthy of mention in Ash & Bramble, but the godmother was the most memorable. She was quite possibly the most evil and cunning villain I could have ever imagined. This was partly because in all the fairy tales I’ve read, the godmother is always the good, kind one that saves the day. However, in Ash & Bramble we see her as a cruel megalomaniac. She uses her power to force everyone against their will, taking their memories away and basically brainwashing them into submission. After reading this book I won’t ever look at her the same way again!

Then she is all coldly controlled fury, her smile the glint and slash of a blade. “Very soon you will die a bloody and bitter death, Shoemaker,” she hisses. “And as you die, you will understand that your life was such a tiny thing that no one will even notice you are gone.”

My only concern with this read was that at times the pace was a leeetle slower than I prefer. The action arrives after quite some time, then there was a long lull and then eventually, the pace picks up again. It would have been a smoother read if there weren’t such long periods of ‘quiet’ but apart from that and the cliff-hanger, Ash & Bramble is a fantastic retelling and I cannot wait for the second book in this series!

Notable Scene:

“What if the stories aren’t told? What if they’re lived? What if you were forced to live your life in the shape of a story that is not your own, with no choice about who you are and where you’re going?”


FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Ash & Bramble. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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