Book Reviews

Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty #1.5) by Rosamund Hodge

Maia’s mother died when she was a little girl, but her mother’s spirit has never left her. Now Maia must protect everyone around her from her mother’s wrath if they have wronged Maia. This can be pretty hard since she lives with her stepmother and tgilded-asheswo stepsisters now that her father has passed as well. Maia serves her family by cooking, cleaning, and doing all the chores that need to be done to keep the house maintained. She does it all with a smile on her face, because she knows all too well what will happen if her mother thinks she has been slighted. Maia’s newest task is to deliver letters from her oldest stepsister, Kore, to Lord Anax, who is hosting a ball in a few days where he will choose his bride at midnight. Maia delivers the letters every day and gets to know the lord in the process. They develop a strong relationship, but each are careful not to show all of their cards. Maia knows she can never love or let anyone get close to her because of her mother’s spirit, but this becomes a difficult task the more she gets to know Lord Anax. Soon the days have passed and it is time for the masquerade ball where Kore will get the proposal she has dreamed of, but of course nothing is ever that easy. Everyone is playing for high stakes with their own secrets and motives, and now everyone must make a hard choice to protect those they love.

Maia’s relationship with her stepsisters are my favorite part of the novella. Like most relationships, things aren’t always what they seem. It takes Maia almost the entire novella to sort out her feelings for her sisters, but in the end, the love that she has for the two of them is far more touching than the relationship she has with Lord Anax. Speaking of Lord Anax, he seems like a pretty okay guy. He wasn’t pretentious like you would expect someone of his stature to be, though he did put on a good show for his father. His character was like an onion with all of the layers he eventually revealed to Maia. Of course their relationship is very insta-lovey, but that was expected with this being a short novella. I would like to read more about them and their world. I really enjoyed the setting being on a Greek island. The incorporation of Greek mythology and gods was fun and something that I find very interesting.

I am generally not a fan of fairy tale retellings, but my dear OTSP Secret Sister sent me this novella as a gift. I have to say that I didn’t want to like this story, but I found myself getting lost in it. Even though it is based on Cinderella and I had a basic idea of what was going to happen (which honestly is the main reason I don’t care for retellings), I really enjoyed the way the author spun the story to fit these characters. I figured that the end of the novella would be at the ball when the clock strikes midnight, but it continued on after that and kept me guessing.

Solely basing my opinion on this novella, I definitely want to read the Cruel Beauty series. It was fun stepping out of my comfort zone to read a book I normally would have never tried on my own. I also have never considered reading a novella for a series to test the water. Thank you, OTSP Secret Sister, for opening my eyes!

4/5 stars

-Leah

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