Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Friday, August 28, 2015

About the Book:
Author: Sarah Prineas
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2015
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Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Fairytale
Rating: 4 out of 5

Fairytale re-telling’s, re-imaginings or re-makes (however you coin the popular reemergence of classic fairytales), no matter where they fit, I love them all. Or most of them. I’m really conflicted about this novel. Before I get into the specifics of that, let’s talk a little overview. The story follows a young Seamstress who cannot remember Before. Her life is a blank, she is Nothing… but then there is the young and handsome Shoemaker. What’s his story? Who is he? A spark begins to grow in Pin, and with a daring escape plan, she and the Shoemaker scale the thorn covered wall to freedom. But life outside the fortress is anything but pleasant, and really, all Pin has exchanged is one servitude for another.

Much of this book is dazzlingly imagined with a touch of macabre. There are unique elements aplenty and that’s what makes the story reign as a boldly inspired re-telling. Broken into three parts, it’d be fair to say, the reading of this got off to a slow start. I had to kind of push myself to keep reading, figuring it’d be fair to give the novel a fair chance. And I’m glad I did. The first part did nothing to convince of the legitimacy of what was to come. But once part two rolled in and more familiar markers took shape, I really began to like this story – and even before that, once Pin had more interaction with the Shoemaker, things picked up.  

The middle act sets up the more traditional elements of the book with a stepmother and stepsisters, though not everything is the same. Shifting between Pin’s first-person narrative and the Shoemaker’s third person perspective, it’s clear early on this isn’t going to follow familiar icons of the story, particularly where the romance is concerned. A smidgeon of a love triangle works its way onto the pages, but nothing bucks the obvious, which is kind of nice. As far as the love story goes, I wasn’t all that convinced. It’s more “instant love,” particularly on the part of the male character whereas Pin has limitations on her feelings, though why I cannot say. I think my biggest gripe (silly as it may be) with the story are the characters names. The meaning and intention for this is clear, but still, reading a book in which the lead hero is called “Shoe” through 400-some pages was a bit… silly and as such, made it difficult to take these characters too seriously.  

Lest anyone think otherwise, there are some unusual cues that play out exactly as I’d imagine the author wanted. I cannot say too much because of spoilers, but I thought the “bigger world” picture was insanely clever and pitting the Godmother in the villainess role was beyond brilliant (saying this shouldn’t be a spoiler since it’s in the synopsis). Though it has merits, something is holding me back from declaring this a favorite. It’s a conundrum because I do admire the qualifiers that do make this such a unique story, but then flipping the page, there were a few too many annoyances (insta-love – that to me, wasn’t “instant chemistry,” it was meant to be love; the characters names) to endear the twists and turns. It’s disappointing because I so wanted to like this. The tagline alone intrigues in ways other fairytales do not. Being contrary, I will say, I did enjoy my time in this world, particularly in Pin’s world. Mostly this was because her portions were most interesting. There’s some sass and of course, a heroine who isn’t afraid of fighting. If you like re-imagined classics or Sarah’s writing, Ash and Bramble will be an inspired, unique novel you’ll not wish to miss.  

Synopsis: 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. - Goodreads

Coming Next from: An untitled novel coming from HarpterTeen, fall 2016.
Sincere thanks to the publisher, HarperTeen for providing a complimentary ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I've been really curious about this one ever since I saw it on a couple of "Top Ten" lists, so I'm really excited you read and reviewed it! Which, by the way, your review is fabulous as always. :) I feel like the character's names would annoy me as well. But it does sound interesting! And that cover is really pretty. Thanks for the great review, Rissi. :)

    1. I'm really conflicted about this one, Bekah. On the one hand I enjoyed the novel greatly because it's very clever. On the other, some of the small annoyances took me "out" of the world and story, you know? It's one of those books I do like... but there are "issues," too. Hope you enjoy if you read it. :)


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