A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight.
The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stitched, as it leads to happily ever after.
But it is not the true Story.
A dark fortress.
A past forgotten.
A life of servitude.
No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems like freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles Pin in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight. To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between her prince and another—the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny.
A Cinderella retelling? A CINDERELLA RETELLING?! WITH AN EVIL GODMOTHER?
Ash & Bramble is fuhreaking fantastic, you guys, and that is all. No matter the cover, no matter what the synopsis may sound like, trust me when I say, that this THIS book is the only fairytale retelling you need in your life. Not only does it explore a completely creepy dystopian world in a way that will leave your jaw on the floor, you’ll see how much effort and love and blood and tears have been put into this book by the writing alone, and that. is. beautiful.
The book begins with a girl, the girl of the novel, and a fortress. Godmother’s fortress. There, this nameless girl, will be named Pin by a shoemaker named Shoe. There, Pin will discover that she is not like the other Seamstresses in the fortress. There, Pin will discover the power of the silver thimble in her pocket. She will attempt to escape with Shoe, the boy with a gentle heart who loves her. It is there that she will gain courage and strength and friends and love.
It is also right there that she may have to lose her life, and everything she holds dear.
That is it. That’s all I’m going to tell you, because really. Spoilers. BUT lets get to the other things I am going to talk about in this mostly incoherent fingerling that I’m passing off as a review, that are hopefully going to convince you to drop everything at once, and pick this book up!
I LOVED how dark this book was. Dude. Guys. Oh God, this book does not cut any corners, not even in the beginning. This is not a happy book from start to finish, in fact, it isn’t a happy book at all. The theme is dark, the characters are twisted, and our main protagonist Pin isn’t exactly your friendly neighbourhood fairytale princess either. Because the book deals with slavery and abuse and certain nefarious tricks that the Godmother plays, nothing about this book is hopeful There are lies, and manipulations, and a certain amount of terror that you will inevitably experience for every character in the book!
I LOVED the characters. Pin and Shoe I’ve already talked about, but goddamn. Each and everyone in the book felt real and essential and I absolutely enjoyed reading about them! There are other fairytale characters here (Rapunzel. The Huntsman) and they were completely different from what you think they might be. The Prince mentioned in the synopsis? He was amazing! Pin? She was brave and smart and just completely owned my heart! Shoe? My favourite book boyfriend in probably six months! You’re going to love this guy, but leave him alone he’s all mine!
And of course, this review can’t move along without mention of The Godmother. This woman made my head spin. She was this mysterious, completely evil that I could count on to be evil, but here’s the thing: I want to hate her. I wanted her gone from the world forever. I wanted to see her stay gone forever. Somehow, by the last 20% of the book, I could manage none of the above. The Godmother is going to be one of those villains I hate to love, and that in itself is amazing. Me loving a villain? Crazy, but there it is. It happened. All bow down to the author queen, y’all, because she did the impossible!
The book switches between Pin’s first person POV and Shoe’s third person POV, and it’s divided in three parts. I’d say that the switching POVs were a bit difficult to follow initially, but it becomes very clear early on that Shoe and Pin are two very different people, with different voices, and very, very different thought processes. Where Shoe is a follower, determined to stick by the rules, Pin is a rebel by nature, curious and has a bit of a problem with authority. Part One was filled to the brim with tension and violence and of course, a lot of Pin-Shoe interactions! Those were so melting, and in a world like the one this book is set in, Shoe’s awkward fumbling and blushing was just so cute ❤
Part Two was where the fun really begins. We see the Godmother’s plans (as much as she lets us, anyway) and the story unfolds in a completely different direction from Part One. Things unfolded a little too easily for Shoe in this part, but I’ll happily ignore that for the thrills I got to experience here! This particular part explores the Cinderella you and I know, the fairytale we’ve all read, but of course more twisted and dark than the original. This is where I really feel in love with Pin and her give-a-fuck attitude. And the Prince! THE PRINCE ❤ Sigh.
Part Three was fucking fantastic. This part is actually the slowest of the lot, possibly the most troubling because everything falls into place right here. All theories, all character motivations, all of it is confirmed or denied, and that makes it hella important. This part of the book made me question everything I thought I knew, and reminded me of why I fell in love with certain characters in the first place! The last 25% of the book is why you should read it. It’s fast and slow, the sweetest torture, and you will not rest without having read it!
The writing in this book is truly out of the world good. Sarah Prineas weaves darkness into a fairy tale retelling, making it both sensual and sinister, and ensures that once you start reading it, you won’t be able to quit. Ash & Bramble has literally everything you want in a book, with the bonus of a love triangle that will not want to commit murder, and an evil Godmother you didn’t know you needed to read! You will love Shoe. You will love Pin. And you will be left begging for a sequel. Or four.