Title: Gilded Ashes
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Published Date: April 1st 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
From Goodreads :
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?
I'm not actually that type of reader who will bother reading a novella, ever. But after the amazingness called Cruel Beauty, I will certainly have this one, please and thank you. And you, Rosamund Hodge, are almost certainly a genius with words.
Gilded Ashes took you into the world of Cinderella, with only, well, a hundred shades darker. The fairy godmother is instead a ghost mother (Well, hey, it sounds similar), and this Cinderella—Maia—is bound by her mother's love. Because her demonic bargain make anyone who made Maia cry, suffer. And by suffer, I mean meeting demons and went mad or die, tops.
And yes, even with just a hundred something pages, Hodge managed to make her character strong and lovable. Maia, our main character, had a really strong characteristic and an admirable wit that somehow still made me laugh, even when this book is hella dark.
And the side characters like the prince, the stepsisters, and the stepmother all have their own unique traits too. And they are also deep and well-layered, with a good past to back it up and all, not just boringly handsome or boringly cruel.
And the story itself is also fascinating, full of surprise, and although we all knew how Cinderella story goes, I still found myself curious with this book. If you're a lover of fairy tales retelling story, do give this novella and its companion book, Cruel Beauty, a try. With a strong cast of character and a fresh take of a renowned classic, this one is such an amazing read that all of you should definitely try.
, by Neysa Kristanti