**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for my most recent reads. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z.**
It just doesn’t feel like Halloween until you’ve carved some pumpkins!
Last week I spent most of my free time reading short stories and graphic novels – there are so many terrifying reads to choose from, so of course I had to read them all! Check out all my favorite Halloween short reads here – there’s still time to fit a couple in!
Even with all my short reads, I still managed to finish Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West and start Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig – both were excellent picks! This week I’m still hoping to finish Mischling by Affinity Konar. I keep forgetting the book at home or finding it too serious for my reading mood, but it’s absolutely beautifully written.
Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West
Orphaned and wondering the village alone, Bristal was taken in by a loving kitchen maid, but her mysterious past soon catches up to her as rumors of magical enchantments spread. With a knack for shape-shifting, she unexpectedly finds her place among the two remaining elicromancers, an immortal race bound by magic to protect and guide the human realms toward peace, but as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Barely sixteen and untrained, she’ll find herself caught between the two in an all-out supernatural war, forced to choose between a life of servitude and a life of unchecked power. Though her choice is clear, the consequences are not as simple. As they ready themselves for war, Bristal will protect the mortals as best she can, fostering a hidden princess, disguising herself as a soldier to lead a prince to battle, and masquerading as fairy godmother to a young lady in order to join two crowns. Combining elements from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Mulan, Kingdom of Ash and Briars is a beautifully written debut that will satisfy your cravings for fairy tale endings.
“Magic is given to the wise and unwise alike, just like titles and crowns. You could no more say it’s only used for evil than you could say every king is corrupt.”
I was very hesitant to read Kingdom of Ash and Briars – another fairy tale retelling, really? Especially seeing it combined the most traditional of tales, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, with the Chinese legend of Mulan, I wasn’t sure it would work, but I was so wrong! Hannah West is a master story teller, seamlessly weaving elements from all three into an entirely unique story of magical wonder, female wit, and fairy tale love. Bristal is a character of heart, selfless to the core and always willing to do what’s right instead of what’s easy. She’s brilliantly smart, a tireless soldier, and not afraid to put her love aside to save the kingdom. During the course of the novel, Bristal fills all three of her roles simultaneously, jumping back and forth between the soon to be sleeping princess, the warrior prince, and her marital plans for the lost duchess – she has a lot going on! Even so, she can’t help falling for the prince, a brave soul similar to her own, but their relationship is only going to make her job more difficult. How will his father, the king, ever take her serious when she’s about to be married – she has to convince him to send troops before it’s too late! During the entire course of the novel, Bristal does her work in secret, shape-shifting into her various disguises and guiding the force of the realm in secret, all the while hearing vicious rumors of her abandonment of the city, leaving the mortals in peril of her former teacher. It’s what makes Bristal such an amazing role model for readers, to see her selflessness in such blatant adversity, to see her hope for a better future, and most of all to see her ability to love though surrounded by hatred, making Kingdom of Ash and Briars so much more than just another fantasy novel, but instead an entirely unique and inspiring story for readers of any age.
Rating: 5 Stars Goodreads
What have you been reading lately?