Ash and Bramble plays with the concept of story and structure.  Yeah.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected, either.

Ash and Bramble plays with the concept of story and structure.  Yeah.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected, either.

The first thing you need to know before picking up this book is that this isn’t a fairytale retelling.  I would describe it as a look at the behind the scenes of a fairytale.  It was an interesting perspective to take because I think most readers take the magic and the characters at face value, and this book forces you to see the characters as actors who are thrust into a story simply to punch out the happy ending everyone expects.  That takes a little effort to wrap your brain around, but I think anyone who has ever watched Once a Upon a Time will be able to appreciate the concept.  Ultimately I gave it only three stars, and I don’t see this engaging a lot of readers who just want an escape read, but I have been wrong before (once in 1989 when I thought I needed a short perm – it didn’t work as planned).


Goodreads Summary

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 Thoughts

Pin is the female protagonist in this book, and though she can’t remember exactly who she is or her life before, she knows she wants a choice in her future.  This is the hook that could have snagged a lot of YA readers because that is a universal feeling, especially when the reader knows their own mom and dad are just pushing them a certain way because it is a guaranteed happy ending, even if it isn’t their preferred ending.  I can’t quite explain how that theme seems to get lost in the shuffle, but it shows up again and again without making any real impression.  Pin, too, seems to get lost in the shuffle.  I didn’t connect with her personally, and I think that is because she never could quite get a grasp of who she was herself.  I liked her well enough, and she was brave and a fighter, but I was just a little ambivalent about her fate by the end.  Shoe is the character I connected with the most.  He is much more aware of himself, so that helped, but his motivation was a little weak for me – love. He doesn’t call it that, but it is what drives him throughout the story.  I know that sounds terribly romantic, and it would have been if he had been given enough time with Pin to convince me he really loved her.  This may not be a problem for other readers, but I have to believe in the starting romance before I can really get behind the rescue it motivates.  Despite the fact that Pin and I won’t doing a mani/pedi day and the fact that this story wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I enjoyed it. I don’t think that this book will be for everyone.  I have always been interested in the internal works of things, though, and Ash and Bramble manages to dissect fairytale in a way that gives readers a slightly ominous glimpse at the guts and clockwork that hides beneath the shimmery, romanticized facade.  I will say that it felt like a literary work more than something I would read for pleasure simply because it played with structure and narrative in such an experimental way.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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