Book Review: Ash & Bramble

Ash & Bramble
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Page Count: 464
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy, Fairy Tale Inspired

I picked this one up expecting a light and fluffy Cinderella retelling, but what I got was so much better. Ash & Bramble is a darker reimagining of Cinderella and a slew of other fairy tales. Sarah Prineas has crafted a world in which everything you know about fairy tales is turned on its head. The Fairy Godmother isn't always the good one and The Witch isn't always evil. It took a little time for me to get used to this universe as it rebelled against the traditional format of some well beloved stories, but at the end, I was able to look back and see this as a beautiful work of art that required creativity and courage. Prineas makes these stories her own with nods to the originals.

The story begins as a teenage girl wakes in a cold, lonely place. She's soon told she is a seamstress and forced to work long hours sewing ball gowns for no pay. It doesn't take long for her to figure out that she has somehow landed in a life of slavery, but she has no recollection of how she arrived in her new dreary circumstances. Bits and pieces of her past dance at the edges of her memories, but they are elusive and slink away before she can latch onto them too tightly. The only thing she has that gives her hope that there is more beyond the gray walls of the fortress in which she is being held is a thimble she finds in her pocket. Something tells the girl that the thimble is special and should remain a secret.

As days pass, the girl finds herself becoming acquainted with a handsome shoemaker. He also has no memories of his past, but desires freedom. Pin and Shoe, as they will name themselves, decide that escape isn't a smart idea, but it is one they must undertake. A plan begins to form in Pin's mind and she can't imagine not taking Shoe along. The pair begin to forge an attachment to one another as they face danger, hardship, and one angry Godmother. Their escape will land them in the middle of a familiar story with dozens of unexpected twists. Can Pin and Shoe figure out what's happening?

I loved the intensity of this novel. There is a current of danger and intrigue in every chapter. I spent the whole novel terrified for Pin and Shoe. This is certainly not the fairy tales of my childhood. This is a much darker story that revolves around the theme of fate and free will. Which one truly dictates our lives? I also enjoyed picking out the various fairy tale inspirations as the novel progressed. The notion that some of my favorite characters could have been ripped out of their lives for my amusement was a sobering thought.

Overall, I enjoyed this one and would recommend it to those who enjoy a fairy tale inspired story that isn't a straight up retelling. I liked that there were elements of the Cinderella tale we all know and love, but that it wasn't the Disney version. This story is dark, thought provoking, and action packed. It was also nice to see a female character who allowed her brain to drive her decisions rather than someone else's notions of romance or fate. Ash & Bramble is a combination of fantasy and dystopian that will leave you questioning the notion of happily ever after.

One Last Gripe: I found the writing style to be a little odd.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I liked the challenge against the traditional good vs. evil theme.

First Sentence: I know this part of my story, the beginning, maybe.

Favorite Character: Shoe

Least Favorite Character: Godmother

When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit…

The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story.

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.

Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.


  1. Oooh nice! Glad you liked this one! I am so excited for it and can't wait to read it! Love a good fairy tale type story and this one sounded so unique! Great review!

  2. Ahhhh! I'm just bubbling to dive into this one. I'm a sucker for a fairy-tale retelling, and can't help but love it when authors take everything I know and turn it around until it's barely recognizable, but eerily the same. Sounds you think she did a great job keeping this engaging and interesting throughout the course of the story, and I couldn't be happier to know this rising to the top of my TBR pile!


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