Theodosia was six when the invaders came. Her peaceful country never stood a chance. The Kalovaxians killed Theo's mother, the queen; enslaved her people; and commodified the magical stones that Theo's people hold sacred. Now 16 and called Thora, Theo is still held captive in her palace; the kaiser places a shameful ash crown upon her head and tortures her every time her people rebel. When the opportunity to escape arrives just after the kaiser forces her to do something terrible, Theo refuses to run, believing she can do more for her people on the inside. She throws herself into a complicated plot involving the kaiser's son, but she needs every ounce of intelligence she has—one misstep could mean her death, and there are other people plotting in this castle as well. Fans of Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Curse (2014) will find a kindred spirit in this debut, which highlights Theo's complicated feelings toward the people who have held her captive most of her life. An emotionally complex, breathtakingly suspenseful series starter. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
Sixteen-year-old Princess Theodosia is a royal prisoner in the Kaiser's court within the fantasy setting of Astrea—where some have the power of magical abilities channeled through coveted gems. The victim of intense physical and mental abuse (she witnessed her mother being murdered), she believes her people will come to save her. But after being forced to kill a man she believes to be her last hope, the so-called Ash Princess realizes she'll have to save herself. In a story driven by the strength of its traumatized yet resourceful protagonist, Sebastian weaves together political intrigue, theological questions, and the genocide of an entire race. The princess agrees to stay in her gilded cage to act as a spy for the resistance; her dual purpose provides a window into the complexities of human interaction and emotion, familial tensions, and the false public face that is sometimes required in politics and at court. Theodosia navigates a web of lies and half-truths, culminating in a climactic ending ripe for a sequel. Ages 12–up. Agent: Laura Biagi, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Apr.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.Review by School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 7 Up—An Artemisian princess is used as a threat to those who would try to overthrow the Kalovaxians who have taken over Artemisia. The new Kaiser even causes her to change her name from Theodosia to Thora and ingrains in her head that she cannot mention her real name without getting punished. He further disgraces her by calling her the Ash Princess, since she no longer has a country to rule, and makes her wear a crown of ashes that crumbles and stains her clothes. She is punished for any events that the Artemisians plan to get back their country or any incidents that cause the Kaiser to look bad. It is only when the Kaiser causes her to kill her own father that her feelings of quiet acceptance turn into rebellion. The journey through her thoughts and the pressure of high expectations from those supporting her as their queen are ever-present as she starts to find a way to take back the country. Through unexpected allies and daring escape plans, her trip from downtrodden princess to queen is an engaging one that fantasy fans will enjoy. The main characters are well rounded but the supporting cast is somewhat underdeveloped. This might be rectified in the next installments. The relationship between Theo and her closest friend, Cress, also seems somewhat contrived, although it is crucial to the story line. There are some graphic descriptions of the punishments that Theodosia endures, so this novel may not be for the faint of heart. VERDICT Purchase where there are still avid fans of "The Selection" series by Kiera Cass and "The Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins.—Lenore Catalano, Hammarskjold Middle School, NJ Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.
Held captive by the brutal Kaiser since age six when she witnessed her mother's murder, Theodosia, called Ash Princess, is now sixteen and prepared to reclaim the throne by any means necessary.Review by Publisher Summary 2
The first book in the New York Times bestselling series "made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir" (Bustle), Ash Princess is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here."Sure to be one of the summer's most talked about YAs. . . . A darkly enchanting page-turner you won't be able to put down."-Bustle