Title Gilded Ashes
Author Rosamund Hodge
Description from Amazon
Maia doesn’t see the point of love when it only brings people pain: Her dead mother haunts anyone who hurts Maia, and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother’s approval, even though she despises them. Meanwhile, Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn’t believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. But when Maia’s and Anax’s paths cross before the royal ball, they discover that love might not be the curse they once thought. And it might even be the one thing that can save them both.
I really enjoyed Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so I thought a spin-off story had a lot of potential. I didn’t have many initial thoughts as this is a novella – it was a one hour, short read.
I love the recurring theme of stairs on Rosamund Hodge’s books. Stairs can be so symbolic and so many classic fairy tales feature them. Since she does a lot of retellings, her use of them on her covers is very well thought out. I also like the colors. As with Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound, most of the cover is shades of grey and white (with maybe a few pale colors, but nothing flashy), and there is one featured color. I thought the teal pop on the stairs was a really pretty use of color pop. Despite the fact that this is only an e-book, I think it has tons of shelf appeal.
Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone
As I may have mentioned before, I am not usually a fan of scary or supernatural stories. So Gilded Ashes was a bit out of my comfort zone. It was dark, creepy, ghostly, and featured demons. Those are all things I typically avoid, but I wanted to give it a chance. Overall, I think it really worked. I didn’t find myself scared or regretting my choice to tackle this story. I liked it.
I love to see spin-off books. There are always characters in stories that I wish I could know more about. Despite the fact that Gilded Ashes is only set in the same universe as Cruel Beauty, we get to see the Gentle Lord again, giving us more insight into why he makes his deals. He was an incredibly enigmatic and yet charming “villain” in Cruel Beauty and I was glad to see him again.
The Cruel Beauty universe has so much potential. I’d love to see Rosamund Hodge write more stories set here. I thought Gilded Ashes was the perfect length to capture Maia’s story. My only criticism is that the timeline is a bit rushed feeling. But, that’s also a critism I have of the original Cinderella story.
Recommendations for Further Reading
- Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – you don’t have to read Cruel Beauty first, but it’s definitely something you want to read if you liked Gilded Ashes.
- Veiled Allurement by Elle Beaumont – another novella length Cinderella re-telling. Veiled Allurement is more in the vein of Cruel Beauty as there is a mythological/gods and goddesses element to it.
- The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist – this one is not a Cinderella retelling, but the step-family set up is similar and one of our main characters falls for a Prince who she shouldn’t.