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Ash & Bramble Hardcover – September 15, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Pin wakes up knowing nothing about her past. She is told she is a Seamstress, one of many slaves forced to work for the fearsome Godmother. With the help of a mysterious thimble she has somehow saved from Before, headstrong Pin and a frightened but caring Shoemaker escape the prison fortress. But Pin is captured, and her memory is again wiped away by the Godmother. She awakes as an abused stepdaughter who is fated to wear glass slippers and meet a charming prince at a ball. Meanwhile, Shoe is saved by rebels and plots to rescue Pin. When Prince Cor realizes that he has also been used, he joins Pin, Shoe, and the rebels in their efforts to thwart the Godmother's power. But can they ever escape the inevitable ending that Story has planned for them? Narrated in the first person alternately by Pin and Shoe, the book begins with a sense of foreboding and steadily builds suspense as the characters piece together the truth about how the Godmother manipulates people and events. Prineas skillfully brings her characters to life and creates a believable premise for this unconventional "Cinderella" story, even managing to sneak in references to other fairy tales. There is plenty of action mixed with romance, as Shoe and Cor compete for Pin's affections. The wicked Godmother concept works perfectly, and it is a revelation when Pin discovers the reason for the witch's actions in the original stories. VERDICT A first purchase for fans of Marissa Meyer's "Lunar Chronicles" (Feiwel & Friends) and Robin McKinley's retold fairy tales.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
Ash & Bramble is a delightful deconstruction of society’s fairy tale myth, wrapped in an exquisite, spellbinding adventure. A must-read for teens who yearn to forge their very own story. (Rae Carson, author of the best-selling Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy)
“A uniquely new fairy tale, full of beauty and danger. Splendid!” (Tamora Pierce, author of Mastiff)
“Ash & Bramble is a book written for anyone who wants to decide for themselves what path their life should take.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (starred review))
“Ash and Bramble is a uniquely written story with a strong and engaging voice. 4 ½ stars.” (Romantic Times Book Reviews, Top Pick)
“Prineas handily incorporates numerous twists on fairy-tale conventions in this feminist reimagining of the Cinderella story.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The romance absolutely aches. A fresh fairy-tale retelling.” (ALA Booklist)
Top customer reviews
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How did Prineas come up with the idea of zapping everybody’s memory, occasionally multiple times, so that no one in the book knows their own histories or names? By the second half of the book, the main protagonist doesn’t even remember the first half of the story. That was brilliant.
What a great notion, making so many of the secondary characters who might have been bad guys into sympathetic characters – the stepsisters especially; even the stepmother by the end. So clever to show how these fundamentally decent people are being misshapen into petty tyrants by the way they’re all trapped in the Cinderella story. And Prineas pulled this off with just a line here and a line there. That was brilliant.
What an interesting stylistic choice, making Pin’s pov chapters first person present and Shoe’s pov chapters third person present. That actually worked for me – I didn’t even notice the shifts between first and third until I was halfway through the book.
Now I’m totally looking forward to the sequel. Which is based on Sleeping Beauty, evidently. I’m not aware of a lot of Sleeping Beauty retellings, but I’m fascinated to see what Sarah Prineas will do with this.
I generally come to novels with my own expectations and desires, a demand to be entertained and a hope that maybe I'll learn something. Ash & Bramble delivers on all of that. It's the sort of novel that provides a unique perspective while still delivering a kick-ass story full of sword fights and adventure and occasional party dresses about characters I cared about and rooted for. It has delightful little gifts to the reader, moments of the familiar mixed cleverly into something brand-new.
It's a book about story and a book about telling stories. Prineas 'gets' story and that, in the end, is what made this book such a fun and satisfying read for me. Definitely recommended.