Sunday, February 28, 2016

#Monday Review - Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: A Wicked Thing # 2
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss, Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale. But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

SettingFictitious Kingdoms of Alyssinia, and Vanhelm.

Key Characters: Prince Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty), Nettle (singer/spy), Celestine (Wicked Witch), Prince Rodric of Alyssinia, and Prince Finnegan of Vanhelm.

SummaryKingdom of Ashes, by Rhiannon Thomas, is the second and apparent final installment in A Wicked Thing series. After sleeping for 100 years thanks to Celestine's curse, Princess Aurora was awakened by Prince Rodric with a kiss. She awoke to a land where magic is non-existent, and has been gone for decades. Except that she herself has her own form of magic. She found herself at the mercy of a tyrant King who ruled with an iron fist. 

Now, Aurora is wanted alive for treason by the King John of Alyssinia after the events of her arranged wedding to Rodric, and the fact that she burns down a village escaping. Her magical abilities have come alive, and it seems that everyone wants a piece of what she has. Thanks to some help from Nettle, Aurora makes her way to Vanhelm where the kingdom has been razed to the ground by Dragons and only a city on the water remains. 

Aurora's reasons for traveling to Vanhelm are two-fold. She needs Queen Orla's help in defeating King John, and she needs Finnegan's help in learning more about her magic and how to control it. In return for their help, Aurora promises to rid the Kingdom of all the Dragons that appeared 50 years ago. Oh, there be a whole lots of dragons here! Dragons who seem to be drawn to her and may also be the answer to defeating King John. 

This is a story that has a whole lot of secrets exposed about Celestine and about Aurora. I liked the spunk that Aurora showed in this story. She knows that this new reality of hers is dangerous and everyone wants a piece of her. She knows that she might have to do cruel things to those who stand in her way, but still has the reasoning to stop and not let things get out of control. While she does have some allies, it is better to go alone, that risking being betrayed.

I liked that Thomas avoided the dreaded love triangle of horror that infects a majority of young adult novels these days. I knew that there was no way Aurora should end up with either Rodric, or Tristan no matter how much it might make sense. Aurora's relationship with Finnegan goes from bluster, to respect, to admiration. Finnegan is a devil of a character, and a charmer to boot. 

I enjoyed the addition of the dragons. Are you kidding me, I freaking LOVED the addition of dragons into this story! It made things a bit darker, and dangerous, and you really have no clue who is going to survive until the end. I loved that Aurora has some conflicts as well. She knows that her kingdom needs a new ruler, but doesn't think she should be that person. 

Not so MuchI didn't much care for the so called "feminist" message in the story, but that's my cross to bear. I truly believe that a woman can be strong, confident, badass, and have a strong relationship with the man she loves without giving into her inner voice telling her she doesn't need a man around to be happy. There can and should be a line that doesn't need to be crossed when trying to put across your message. 

Is this the final book in the series? If so, it leaves a whole lot of room for interpretation, especially when it comes to certain characters and their fates. Overall, a fitting ending to the story even with a bit of lull at times.

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