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Kingdom of Ash and Briars

Review

Kingdom of Ash and Briars

KINGDOM OF ASH AND BRIARS is a fairy tale retelling that mainly focuses on the story of Sleeping Beauty, however it has some elements of Cinderella and Mulan as well. When 16-year-old orphan Bristal is kidnapped and taken against her will to a mysterious place known as the Water, Bristal discovers her abilities to shape shift. From there, Bristal learns that she is an elicromancer; one of three still alive. Years ago in a war between the elicromancers, there were two schools of thought: one that believed magic should be used to protect mortals while the other believed that magic should be used to rule mortals. When these two schools of thought present themselves again, Bristal must choose which side she is on, and who she will fight for.

In truth, I completely forgot that this book was a fairy tale retelling when I started reading it. When I got to the part where Bristal went to the naming ceremony of the princess it started to dawn on me that the plot so far was very similar to that of Sleeping Beauty. I loved reading a new perspective on such a classic tale. Sleeping Beauty has been reimagined on the big screen and through countless books and told by so many different points of view. It was refreshing to read a book where the narrator wasn’t the princess or the evil witch, but the one who has to stop the evil.

"I loved reading a new perspective on such a classic tale....It was refreshing to read a book where the narrator wasn’t the princess or the evil witch, but the one who has to stop the evil."

I loved how strong Bristal was throughout the book. She faces challenge after challenge and is able to overcome obstacles by giving it her all. The book opens up with Bristal being kidnapped and from the very first page I was sucked into the story. Bristal sacrifices so much for the Kingdom of Nissera and I felt that a lot of times her sacrifice went unnoticed. She was only a girl herself when she had to take on the responsibility of raising a child that was not her own. She constantly tried to keep the peace in the kingdom by advising the kings and trying to persuade them to bond against the common enemy. Whenever Bristal was forced to listen to other characters complain that the elicromancers were doing nothing I felt so bad for her because she was doing so much!

It was a little convenient that there happened to be a prince for each of the three young beautiful girls, Rosie, Elinor and Bristol, but it is a fairy tale retelling so it makes sense. The politics of the different kingdoms within Nissera confused me at times because I had to remember whose father was whose and which kingdom they ruled. I did love the handy map and royal family lineages in the front of the book, however, as it was able to help me and I referred back to it whenever I got confused.

Overall I would recommend this book to those who love fantasy, Sleeping Beauty and fairy tale retellings. It was fun to recognize the aspects of Cinderella and Mulan when they happened in the book. If you love books where females are the ones who save the day and don’t need a prince to save them, then this is the book for you.

Reviewed by Ilona K., Teen Board Member on September 19, 2018

Kingdom of Ash and Briars
by Hannah West