I received this book for free from Holiday House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West
Release date: September 15th, 2016
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.
I was really looking forward to reading this book for a variety of reasons: it was my first physical ARC, the cover is absolutely beautiful, it’s fantasy with lots of magic and it incorporates elements from classic fairytales. I cannot stop gushing about how much I enjoyed this book.
- From the first page, the story hits the ground running. It’s fast paced and constantly exciting. There isn’t a “here’s the world” kind of beginning. Instead, everything is slowly revealed. This can be a bit disorienting at first but I honestly prefer it over information dumping in the first few chapters.
- The author includes parts of well known fairytales such as Sleepy Beauty and Cinderella. Growing up I was obsessed with Sleepy Beauty. I had a dress from the Disney movie and everything! The original and fairytale elements blend seamlessly. It’s not jarring or out of place at all. What could make it better? JANE AUSTEN! Bit parts from Emma were evident and I loved every second of it!
- The writing was great…no it was wonderful! The use of detail, the dialogue, the intrigue was perfect for a fantasy novel. The growth of the characters was natural and not forced. Even when characters are disguised as others their essence was still there and their personality shone through. So, you still got to hear that character’s voice but also believe they were someone else.
- All of the characters in the book felt real and completely believable. They were complicated and imperfect. The battle between good and evil wasn’t clear cut. Bristal had to make a lot of hard choices and her conflicted opinions made me love her even more.
- As I mentioned above, things aren’t always as they seem. As someone who has studied history, we know history is written by the victors. It’s what they want the masses to know. What if it was wrong? There’s always another side and I enjoyed how this book touched on it. “Evil” should never be clear cut and I adore books where you can empathize with the villain, even in a teeny tiny way.
- The book gets bonus points for it’s gorgeous cover and tree design at the beginning of each chapter. I love when those little details are added. My heart nearly burst when I opened up the book for the first time. So, so pretty!
- While the book was generally fast paced, Part Two slowed down a little bit. It focused mostly on a military group called the Realm Alliance and I wanted it to be more about the fairytale storylines. There is only so much weapons training and men slapping each other on the back that I can take. This was seriously the ONLY issue I had with the novel. So, when I say that I loved it, I really, really mean it!
Win a pre-order of Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West! Click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter. The contest is international as it will be from the Book Depository. Good luck! xx