Ash Princess
by Sebastian, Laura

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.

Laura Sebastian grew up in South Florida and attended Savannah College of Art and Design. She now lives and writes in New York City. Ash Princess is her first novel. To learn more about Laura and her book, follow @sebastian_lk on Twitter.

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.

The daughter of a murdered queen plots to take back what is hers. With her country seized and her mother, the Fire Queen of Astrea, murdered by invaders when she was only 6 years old, Theodosia has been a prisoner for 10 years, stripped of her crown, her people enslaved. Theo (renamed Thora by her captors) is at the mercy of the Kaiser—the fearsome ruler of the Kalovaxians—enduring his malicious whims in order to survive. But when the Kaiser forces Theo to execute her own father, survival is no longer good enough, and she finally takes up the mantle of queen to lead her people's rise to resistance in a land saturated in elemental magic. Debut author Sebastian has invigorated some well-worn fantasy tropes (a displaced heir, an underground rebellion, and a love triangle that muddies the distinctions between enemies and allies), delivering a narrative that crackles with political intrigue, powerful and debilitating magic, and the violent mechanisms of colonization ev en as it leaves sequel-primed gaps. Some details—like Theo's crisis of identity and Hamletian indecision—work well to submerge readers in a turbulent and enthralling plot; others, like racialized descriptions that fall short of actual representation (Atreans are dark-haired and olive-skinned, Kalovaxians are blond and pale-skinned) and the use of magic-induced madness for narrative shock and awe feel lazy and distracting among more nuanced elements. "Cinderella" but with genocide and rebel plots. (Fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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