Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

ash and bramble

4 out of 5 stars.

I received an ARC of this work.

Positive points for this work: The premise and storyline are super creative. I love the imagination here.

Negatives: Another love triangle. Because YA lit does not already have enough love triangles.

Pin wakes up in the Godmother’s castle, with no recollection of who she is and where she came from. She is just one of many slaves tasked with creating fairy tale items. Her department is filled with tortured and starving seamstresses who create fabulous ball gowns. She soon befriends a shoemaker, struggling to create footwear for princesses. No one has ever escaped before, and those who try are brutally killed as examples.

Pin and Shoe (the shoemaker) do manage to escape, but Pin is recaptured by the Godmother and stuffed into the Cinderella fairy tale. It turns out the kingdom is governed by a force that attempts to shove everyone into a fairytale, and if they don’t fit, it destroys them. Pin and Shoe (and later Cor, Pin’s prince-to-be) all have to take on an evil Godmother and mindless Story force if they ever want to be anything but puppets.

Those who also read adult fantasy will find the premise of this book very closely resembles Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms series. Both centrally feature an unconscious force trying to shape lives to resemble fairytales. I have certainly enjoyed this premise before, and did very much enjoy it now. It is a pretty good explanation for some of the stupider decisions fairy tale characters make. “I was compelled to eat the house made out of gingerbread even though I should have immediately been suspicious!”, ” I had no moral problem trading my daughter’s life for mine even if it means shipping her off to live with a beast”, and “I thought lying to the King about my daughter’s ability to turn straw into gold could not possible backfire immediately!”.

The in-story explanation of where all the fairy tale items come from is brilliant. I have never had an author come up with an fairy tale item sweatshop before and I absolutely love the idea. Fairy Godmothers, fairies and Rumplestiltskins cannot just create something magically, they actually have a huge work force behind them slaving away to create all the shoes and dresses and carriages and gold that the stories use. Brilliant!

I really did not enjoy the love triangle. Pin struggles to decide between the two men she thinks she might love, as every YA heroine seems to struggle with that exact same decision. Apparently teen girls can never just fall for one guy. They have to add the burden of choosing between two people into the mix of adventure they are already dealing with. So what if I am already busy saving the world from zombies? I still have time to mull and brood over finding love, even if it means increasing danger of being ripped to shreds because I am not paying attention!! To all authors, editors and publishers reading this, please stop it with the love triangles. It is really getting stale.

This book also has a lot of smaller references to other fairy tales, so I would not call it a rewrite of Cinderella, as I would a mash-up of quite a few tales. Enjoy!

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