Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Review: Kingdom of Ash and Briars

Kingdom of Ash and BriarsAbout the Book:
Title: Kingdom of Ash and Briars
Author: Hannah West
Pub. Date: September 15, 2016
Publisher: Holiday House, Inc
Pages: 352
Rating: 3/5 stars


Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two - now three - after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince's band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.


Kingdom of Ash and Briars is an interesting retelling of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and even a bit of Mulan, and will appeal to many readers. As a whole, the story is fast-paced and an exciting adventure. The characters are intriguing and you have this urge to read more to learn about the characters and see where the story is going. There were some things that I found just okay about the book, but it was fun read filled with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes.

I greatly enjoyed Bristal's character and she was extremely relatable. The one thing I liked the most though was her relationships with the other characters. You could tell how much she cared about the 2 main girls that she cared for, and I liked how Hannah West wove the retelling aspect into these relationships. Even though this is a retelling of (mainly) Sleeping Beauty, the story isn't actually told from Rosie's (aka Sleeping Beauty) POV, it's told from the person who is protecting her. I thought this was a unique way Hannah West incorporate the fairy-tale aspect into the story while still maintaining her own spin on things. I definitely shipped Bristal and a certain other character (I don't want to reveal who it is since it actually does happen). I loved their interaction and I thought they were great for each other. I know a lot of people didn't actually like this aspect of the story, but I personally enjoyed it and thought Hannah West progressed their relationship in a realistic way. 

The plot itself was interesting, however I did have some problems with certain aspects. I thought the elicromancers were a fantastic element of the story, but I do wish it would have been expanded upon a bit. I found myself wanting just a bit more detail about the elicromancers and their history. We're given a general overview, which is plenty to get us through the story and understand the events of the war, but it would have been nice to have just a little bit more. Also, I would have liked to have a bit more characterization of the secondary characters. Many of them came across as very one-dimensional. Obviously, Bristal's character was very well-developed, and arguably she was the most important character in the story. However, I still think that even if the secondary characters don't play a huge role, they still need to be fleshed out more. Nevertheless, I still think the plot was well done, and Hannah West did an excellent job at incorporating different fairy-tales with magic and mystery.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars is a fun retelling that is a sure hit for fans of fast-paced fantasy and fairy-tales. There is a little something for everyone...magic, shape-shifting, love, death, and twists that you won't see coming. While there were some aspects of the story I felt could have been done better, I would definitely recommend checking this one out!

Happy reading :)



  1. This book sounds so interesting, esp because of the influences! Great review Cassie!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    1. Thanks!! I hope you get a chance to check it out!