A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale, Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty.
Orphan Maia doesn’t see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia’s father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother’s approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they’ll all be struck dead by the curse.
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. What’s the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she’ll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.
As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn’t believe in love. Anax can’t help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can’t help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother’s deadly bargain?
What I liked: I liked the idea and how this was placed in the Arcadia that we came to know in Cruel Beauty, and how the Gentle Lord made a couple of brief appearances in the story. I liked his character, and though we don’t see him outside of making deals for the family I was happy to see him play a small role in this story as well. It makes me wonder where in this lands history that the story takes place, and even if Gilded Ashes and Cruel Beauty overlap in the timeline. It certainly would be interesting. Still though, the characters in Gilded Ashes were entertaining for the little while I got to enjoy them. I didn’t get to know them as well as I could have if it had been a full length novel, but this small glimpse into the lives of others who had been touched by the bargains of the Gentle Lord was one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
What I didn’t like: I wish this had been longer, showing more about how Maia came to grow and change over the story, and how Anax came to love her. It could have been a grand novel if it had been longer, and it would have been just as great seeing even more into how the characters bonded. It just felt too condensed for me, honestly.
Overall Review: Although short, and lacking the anticipation and mystery that both Crimson Bound and Cruel Beauty had for me, Gilded Ashes was a delightful novella that not only showed a dark twist on the tale of Cinderella (though some may say not as dark as the Grimm version off the fairy tale), but also how far someone people will go to protect others when they don’t want to harm them. Maia was different from both Rachelle and Nyx in this respect, she didn’t want to hurt anyone, and did everything she could to make sure no one suffered the wrath or came to harm because of her mother. It was pleasant to see how the author could switch between two completely different characters,
Recommend?: It’s not very long, and not as fulfilling to me as it could have been, but I really enjoyed it!
My Rating: 3.4/5
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the series!
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
About the Author