Ash & Bramble - Sarah Prineas

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


When Pin dares to escape her slavery of making fairytale clothing for a magical Godmother, she and her Shoemaker friend are captured and catapulted into an irresistible world where the prince is having a ball and no one recalls their past. This original Cinderella retelling has more twists than you can shake a bramble at as Pin and Shoe dare to tackle the very power that turns over a story, and a young girl demands to choose her own destiny.


Wowser. I loved this world. It’s already set in a fantasy-type world, but for some reason there’s this Story power that forces people to live the lives of fairytales, and the Godmother gets her power from that, so it’s this never-ending cycle of growing power so long as everyone does as they’re told. There must have been quite a few fairytales already played out such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel, but what I really wanted to know was where did Godmother get her inspiration from? How does she know how the stories are supposed to go?


There is no insta-love and there is no love triangle. Let me make that perfectly clear. It’s a Cinderella retelling, so whatever Pin and the Prince feel for each other is forced upon them, and they’re made aware of that. Pin feels affection early on towards Shoe, but how else are you supposed to become friends with someone? Pin and Shoe are totally lovely anyway. I love their banter, and I love the way they think about each other and care for each other. I love how Shoe and Cor become friends even though they’re kinda rivals. I love how Pin doesn’t have time for silly romances yet finds a way to kiss both of them and thoughtfully compares it – because she knows she’s ‘meant’ to end up with the Prince, but she has real feelings for Shoe. That’s why it’s not a love triangle, even though there is kissing two boys.


[spoiler]I loved how Pin had this whole life before she was enslaved with a memory wipe, so she was already a badass capable staff fighter, she just didn’t know it. And a lot of her power came from being her mother’s daughter and knowing instinctively how to make the magic thimble work.[/spoiler]

[spoiler]Pin dares to live her own life, escapes from the Godmother, plans to run away from the stepmother’s abuse, doesn’t want to go to the ball or meet the prince. She’s not a very good Cinderella, although she can’t resist the lure of the story. I’ve never read a Cinderella retelling where Cinders didn’t want to go to the ball![/spoiler]

[spoiler]I wouldn’t necessarily love a sequel, but I sure as hell would love a prequel. I want to see Faye and Pin’s mother going at it Godmother/bad witch style. OH MY GOD YES. And her grief when she fails Snow White. And how Faye finally defeats her. I’d LOVE to see that! See, I’d love to see a prequel because maybe then we could learn more about Pin and what she was like Before. Since she can’t give her own memories back, she doesn’t know, but I’d love to see this epic showdown between the ice-blue Godmother and the raven-haired witch.


I loved how homosexuality was just casually mentioned. First there was the tavern boy who flirted outrageously with Shoe, then there were casual couples dotted about. No big deal is made about homosexuality but neither is it erased.


I was completely sucked in to this book. I couldn’t believe how quickly I read it, especially as I was coming out of a pretty bad reading slump. Although the cover is somewhat hideous (NOT because the dress is red, it works in context, but because of all the white, which unfortunately also works in context, I just don’t like it – would rather see the more traditional ‘girl in prom dress running through a dark forest’ kind of thing), and the title is completely uninspiring, I thoroughly enjoyed this story about choosing your own destiny and I would recommend it to any fairytale fan who is looking for something a little meta, a little quirky, a little bit different to the more mainstream retellings. The quality of writing is high, the characters are three-dimensional, and there’s enough originality in the retelling to make it its own kind of fairytale.