Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West


Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA16; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryBristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two - now three - after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince's band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.


ReviewKingdom of Ash and Briars is a book that I randomly came across at BEA 16, but I am very excited that I did! I've read and enjoyed fairy tale re-tellings in the past, but they aren't something that I seek out time and again. What I truly loved about this one is that it's based around more than one fairy tale, mixing the stories of Cinderella, Hua Mulan, and Sleeping Beauty. It also says it takes from Austen's Emma, but as I haven't read that book, I didn't notice the comparisons. Regardless, it was great reading through the book and seeing where the various fairy tales came into play, creating a completely new and enjoyable book! 

The story of Kingdom of Ash and Briars follows an orphan girl named Bristal who discovers she is one of the long lost elicromancers, immortal beings with great power. There used to be many more, but now there are only two currently in existence, known as Tamarice and Brack. Bristal joins them to train and learn how to use her power, but it's not long before danger is looming over them.

It's hard to talk about this book because I feel like even the smallest details could be seen as a spoiler, and I do think you should go in knowing as little as possible. I will say that I loved Bristal. She's a smart young woman, willing to sacrifice her happiness for the good of others. I appreciated her bravery and willingness to fight. She's definitely a heroine to root for throughout the book. This book is a stand-alone, which is great. It could have been stretched out, but I feel like it works much better as one single book, with all things reaching their conclusion in the end. 

23 comments:

Kindlemom said...

It's hard to resist a retelling, especially one that is gritty and twisted in its own right. Lovely review for this!

A Canadian Girl said...

Yay for standalones. I feel like every book I end up loving is usually either part of a series or becomes one. I'm also a huge fan of fairy tale retellings so I'm going to check this out. I can't believe it wasn't on my radar already!

Melliane said...

yes it's nice to have a complete standalone book like that. I didn't know about this one but I'm intrigued!

Anna (herding cats-burning soup) said...

I love retellings! That's so neat that it combined more than one fairy tale. Love that!

Karen said...

I have mixed results with re-tellings but having a blend of fairy tales and the fact that it's a stand alone is a plus.

Karen @For What It's Worth

Jasprit said...

I really do love those books that take you by surprise and you go into not knowing a lot about. I've been really hit or miss with retellings lately, but you do have me super curious about this one. Great review! :)

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

I haven't seen this one, but it sounds exciting and a little original. I will have to look it up.

Keertana said...

I love a good re-telling so thanks for putting this one on my radar! Wonderful review! :)

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Love retellings so that is a win with me. This sounded like it was a pleasant surprise.

Midnight Cowgirl said...

I really like fairy tale re-tellings, so this book sounds awesome :)

Michelle said...

I have this and should really read it soon!! I don't read a lot of retellings or fantasy, but I really want to give this a try.

Joyous Reads said...

Glad you love it, Lauren. I can't say I've read this book before but that's not surprising because I tend to stay away from fantasy. Lol.

The Bibliophile Babe said...

I do so enjoy a good retelling! Glad you enjoyed it. :D

Erika Sorocco said...

I'm not usually one for fairytales, but this one sounds intriguing. Also, who can resist that gorgeous cover?!

xx

kimbacaffeinate said...

This is totally new to me Lauren, you really found some gems at BEA!

Jennifer Humphries said...

I love this book. Seriously and I haven't even read it! It is just so down my alley and my 15 year old will love it too. We devour books like this. Thanks for the heads up :)

Kristin @ Addicted to HEA said...

You found all the best books at BEA that I somehow missed!!! This sounds so fantastic and I'm so glad that you're not spoiling anything. It's hard to write those kind of reviews, right?? You never know what to say and what not to say. I'm with you and only say as much as the synopsis says, or less :) Thank you :) I'm checking this one out in GR now...

Grace @ RebelMommyBookBlog said...

Oh I just love that cover!! The concept of mixing all those into one retelling sounds different. Great review!

Nicole Hewitt said...

I don't know how I missed this one at BEA - it looks like the type of book that would be right up my alley. And the fact that it's a standalone is even better!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Farrah Fong said...

I love re-imagined fairy tales and I love that this blends several of them together! (Yay for Mulan! <3) I hope my local library has this! I'm adding it to my to-read list! :D

Rissi said...

This is one I've never heard of, but I really like the sound of it - especially that it's a mash-up of so many fairytales. That is one of my weaknesses, so yeah... I'll have to look this one up. :)

Thanks for the introduction.

Becky Baker said...

I didn't know what this book was about until I saw this review and I'm still not completely certain the book is about but I want to get my hands on a copy. it sounds so original and so interesting. I love a good fairytale and this pulls from a bunch of different ones. I will be reading this soon so thank you for reviewing it.

Shannon/ It Starts at Midnight said...

Oooh I like this! I like to go in blind, so I am glad to know that it's the best way here! And I love that Bristal is such a great character- I kind of hoped she would be, but knowing that you loved her makes me even more excited to read this one! Great review, I definitely need to get to this one ASAP!