September 3, 2015

Ash & Bramble - Sarah Prineas

Ash & Bramble book cover
Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss || e-galley
[I received this from the publisher. This in no way affects the content of my review.]

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.

While I was reading Ash & Bramble, I described it as odd. I couldn't put my finger on the main pulse of the story right away, and yet, I felt compelled to keep on reading. It was, I think, sheer curiosity and a drive to figure out where Prineas was going with her plot that had me turning the pages. Admittedly, the story is incredibly clever. Prineas plays with characters. tropes and elements from various beloved fairy tales. She turns them inside out and upside down, shaping them into a story of her own making, and I admired her ability to do so.

However, I have a few reservations. First, there's a disconnect in the pacing of the first and second parts. It eventually makes sense to the reader, but it made things confusing for a while. Second, as with most fairy tales, there was a romance. But the romance just didn't work for me, as I didn't feel like there was a strong foundation for it. Also, there's a weird sort of love shape that does come into play, though I have no issues with that because it does make sense in context. Third, and most significant of all, I just didn't really like main character Pin. She was fascinating at the start, but as the novel went one, my interest in her waned. For all that Pin had cleverness and determination and bravery, she didn't always act like she did. The lack of consistency in who she was, in hindsight, makes sense when set against this particular story, but that didn't stop it from being grating.

Still, my fascination with how this story cleverly woven together kept me going until the end. That certainly speaks to the author's writing style and her ability to spin a good yarn. I couldn't put Ash & Bramble down, but because of my reservations, I hesitate to give it a general recommendation. Perhaps, if you find the summary interesting, you should try it for yourself and see if you feel the same odd compulsion to read this story after a chapter or two.

Who is your favorite fairy tale character?

I honestly have a major soft spot for Rapunzel. The poor girl is taken away from her parents by a witch, and shut up in her tower for majority of her life. It is only when she is discovered by a prince that she discovers there is more to life than the square feet she occupies up in her room, and she plots an escape with him. The romantic in me just can't get over that - how these two meet, and it changes her whole life forever because she wants it to. Even though they both encounter a lot of trouble along the way, they do find their happily ever after together eventually. (Plus, let's face it, I'm a sucker for the Disney adaptation of this fairy tale - Rapunzel is one of my top three princesses.)


  1. I have yet to read a good review of this one which is so sad because the plot sounds so promising!

  2. Great review, Alexa. I haven’t heard about this book before. Not sure it’s for me, I’m afraid I’ll have problems with Pin, too. As for my favorite fairy tale character… I have a soft spot for Beauty and the Beast retelling and my favorite character of course is Beast.

  3. This cover is so gorgeous :) Thank you for sharing about this book Alexa. <3 I'm glad you liked it :)

  4. I haven't heard anything really overwhelmingly positive about this book yet! but even though you couldn't put it down, that seems like it's true for you too. Which is a shame. I do kind of like fairytale retellings and can't think of any good ones I've read in recent memory (other than Uprooted, if that counts).

  5. I'm so hesitant to keep reading because I thought the first chapter was so bizarre! But I'm still really into the description so I suppose I should give it more of a try before I decide. I was curious what both you and Alyssa thought of it since it seemed like such a strange book! One of those kinds you can't put your finger on. But I do love retellings and books you can't put down.

    Ooh your favorite character is Rapunzel! I love her story too, I have an Aussie YA I want to read soon called The Crystal Heart. Hope it's good. And I absolutely adored Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel earlier this year. I think you would really like it! It has a Harry Potter magical feel to it and a really awesome twist on Rapunzel and fairy tales.

  6. I had to DNF this book, unfortunately. There was something that didn't click with me, perhaps it's because of that 'odd' factor you talked about. My favorite is Belle (surprise ;))


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