Review: Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Sinister, suspenseful and spellbinding—
Prineas re-imagines the much-loved story of Cinderella in a way
that made it impossible to stop reading.
5stars

Synopsis

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.

My Review

Sarah Prineas weaves a story blurred by magic and fate, shackled by happy ever afters. She deconstructs the well-known story of Cinderella, unexpectedly twisting elements and forging them with recognizable facets of other fairy tales. The result is an imaginative, sinister and suspenseful tale which is somewhat ironical, but entirely enchanting.

A dress as bright as a flame, a glass slipper expertly crafted, a ticking clock, a godmother, a prince, a seamstress and a shoemaker. Blood and sweat, servitude and solitude, fate and free will. All these things tumble together as the story ‘begins’ with a girl, hair savagely shorn, forced to work day and night as a seamstress. She has no other memories. Hunched over yards of silk, stitching together gowns fit for a princess, Pin works for the Godmother. She lives a life of servitude with many others, in a fortress surrounded by bramble-covered walls.

“We are a line of gray-faced, gray-dressed, bony clockwork females. It’s as if the individual part of each of the other has been stripped out, leaving behind only their skills. I was Nothing. And then I was Seamstress, like them, but … I have a secret, a secret, a silver thimble hidden in my apron pocket.”

After witnessing brutal punishment and enduring the same hungry, brutal days without end, a plan flickers to life. Pin meets Shoe (a shoemaker) and in a desperate attempt to flee and seek what’s beyond, they escape… aided by unexplained magic in a thimble.

But just as sparks burn into flames of hope, Pin is captured again, forced to live in a story we know all too well… but this time, the Godmother’s plans are not exactly what we think.

“All I know is that she wants me for something, and I cannot let her have me.”

The Cinderella story we know is re-imagined, as the race to understand the truth begins. Shoe must free Pin from her fate, even as they are hunted through the woods, joined by allies from other fractured fairy tales.

I loved the story—an ingenious twist on what we hold dear. I loved the darker, more suspenseful tone and the exploration of what a story is and could be. If you’re a fan of fantasy and re-tellings, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
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