Ash Princess

448p. Delacorte. Apr. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781524767068.
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.

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