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I was surprised and pleased with the amount of depth in Rosamund Hodge's novella GILDED ASHES. I'm used to many of these e-novellas being half promotional material for published novels, with little original content. Even moreso if it's a "prologue" that explains or rehashes necessary information via a flashback from the main character or from another character's POV. Now, when I see a novella alongside a full-length novel, I'm immediately wary. That isn't the case with GILDED ASHES, however. I was more than pleased to hand over money for this e-novella!
You don't have to read CRUEL BEAUTY in order to read GILDED ASHES. In fact, I read the novella first! I think it actually enhanced my interest in CRUEL BEAUTY. I tried picking the novel up a couple of months ago and couldn't get more than a couple of pages into it. I wasn't in the right frame of mind and shelved it, perhaps because I didn't understand the references to the Gentle Lord. But GILDED ASHES eased me into the concept of a dark being who makes horrifying deals, and now that I know CRUEL BEAUTY is partially his story, I'm even more intrigued! I'm really glad I read GILDED ASHES first!
One of the reasons I love Gail Carson Levine's ELLA ENCHANTED and the movie Ever After is because Cinderella knew the prince beforehand. It's not a matter of running into the girl at the ball, seeing a pretty face, and knowing nothing about one another. It's about connections and something more. GILDED ASHES has that same amazing connection, and I loved seeing Maia and Lord Anax enjoy one another's company and conversations. I also was a fan of the fact that this retelling is less traditional. Charles Perrault's version of Cinderella is the most well-known despite the fact that this version is often attributed to the Brothers Grimm. While the Brothers Grimm did have their own version of Cinderella, there's no fairy godmother involved. instead, there's a tree growing from Cinderella's mother's grave that grants her wishes. GILDED ASHES explores the concept of Cinderella's dead mother and the price of wishes from beyond the grave. I love that Hodge did that.
I really enjoyed this version of Cinderella. You can read it as a stand-alone, and it's definitely worth the asking price of $1.99 for your nook/Kindle/etc.!