Pub. date: September 15th 2015
Author: Sarah Prineas
When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit…
The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story.
Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.
Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.
Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Edelweiss courtesy of Harperteen for the ARC copy. This does not influence my review or opinion.
As many of you already know, I am a HUGE fan of fairy tale retellings, so when I had the chance to read and review Ash & Bramble, I leapt for it. I wasn’t disappointed! More than your average Cinderella retelling, Ash & Bramble is a fantastic read, complete with a passionate heroine, addictive plot, and dangerous world. I definitely recommend it.
At the start, Pin is being forced to work as a seamstress in the Godmother’s fortress. She remembers nothing of her life before the fortress and the only remnant of her past is the small silver thimble. The only thing she knows for sure is that she wants to escape. I struggled a bit with the writing style at the beginning because since Pin doesn’t know anything about her past or current surroundings, the reader doesn’t know either. After the first few chapters, though, I had no problem being invested in the story.
I’ve read dozens of fairy tale retelling, including several Cinderella retellings. What makes Ash & Bramble unique was how it was less about Cinderella finding her true love, and more about how all the fairy tales work, and the consequences of wanting to an ending without your supposed Happily Ever After. It also brought life to people that could have so easily been cookie-cutter characters: the evil stepmother, the wicked stepsisters, the handsome prince.
In this world, the Godmother is wicked. She believes that there can only be one ending: a girl ends up with a prince who can protect her. The Godmother runs a fortress of slaves who assemble all the essential fairy tale pieces for her–the glass slippers, the gowns, the jewelry, and more. She organizes everything so that the pair will meet and fall in love, but what happens if the girl falls in love with someone other than the prince?
Ash & Bramble is narrated by two characters: Pin, the seamstress, and Shoe, the shoemaker she falls in love with. Pin is clearly the main character in this situation and I enjoyed her chapters the most. That said, I understand why the author chose to use both perspectives and I didn’t dislike Shoe at all! Both characters were well-developed. I how much Shoe would sacrifice to be with Pin, but I also admire Pin’s independence. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and take risks.
At first, I felt rather iffy about the romance. Pin’s relationship with Shoe developed much too quickly (after their first meeting, Pin was already thinking about kissing him! Umm…). Once Pin and Shoe had escaped the fortress, the romance took the back-burner. The romance was still important throughout the book, but the element of being independent and choosing the fate you want was more prevalent, which was fantastic!
My main issues were with the start of the book and the beginning of the romance, but I feel that the last half of Ash & Bramble really redeemed the mediocre beginning. During the last half, the pieces started to fall into place and the plot developed a lot. Ash & Bramble more than lived up to my expectations, and I’m happy to give it 4 stars. Highly recommended!
What’s your favourite fairy tale retelling?