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Ash & Bramble


Ash & Bramble

Every day, Pin sits with many other women and sews until her fingers bleed.  She cannot recall anything “before” she sat with them.  Each day is like the other; they are not allowed to speak and they are supervised carefully from the minute they get up until they fall into their beds exhausted, at night.  Pin notices is that she has a lovely thimble in her pocket.  She doesn’t know where it came from, but there is something special about it.  In the cold room, the tiny thimble gives her a hint of heat. 

Every day, Shoe works in an isolated room, sewing shoes.  He has been doing this for a very long time but has no memory of what came before.  Bad things seem to happen to anyone who asks questions and worse things if they try to escape.  Shoe has received terrible beatings and knows first-hand the fate of anyone trying to rebel against the Godmother.  Godmother’s slaves are trained to keep everyone within the fortress, as are the deadly brambles covering the surrounding walls.

So begins this cleverly revisited tale of “Cinderella”.  This interpretation is brilliantly twisted and our heroine Pin proves to be strong, feisty and brave. Cornelius, the handsome prince, falls in love with Pin, but Pin doesn’t tingle when they kiss. Plus, there is the very nice looking shoemaker…sigh. There are plots within plots, people turned into animals, swords slashing, gory battles and thrilling adventures as Pin, Cornelius and Shoe rebel to get their freedom from the spell of “Story”. 

The basic bones of the famous Grimm story are there, but [Prineas] adds more surprises, more strange twists and a few touches of other tales. 

It’s hard to imagine how Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm would react today to the phenomenal success of their classic fairy tales --- animated Disney films have been extremely successful; TV shows and hundreds of books retell these stories; and authors like Robin McKinley, Betsy Cornwell and Marissa Meyer have added to the growing list of new “Cinderella” interpretations.  And though similar in many ways, Sara Prineas’s story ASH & BRAMBLE is her own.

In Prineas’s first teen book, the basic bones of the famous Grimm story are there, but she adds more surprises, more strange twists and a few touches of other tales.  The author of the successful The Magic Thief and Winterling series fills this fantasy with updated characters and an ending that is just on the edge being “really” the end. 

Check out her website at for all sorts of exciting promotions and updated news.  Perhaps ASH & BRAMBLE’S story is as “old as time” but it gives us the possibility that there could be more to come --- a most delightful thought!

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on September 14, 2015

Ash & Bramble
by Sarah Prineas

  • Publication Date: September 13, 2016
  • Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0062337955
  • ISBN-13: 9780062337955