{Review} GILDED ASHES by Rosamund Hodge

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

MY MOTHER LOVED ME MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF. That's how everything went wrong.

(Page 4, US e-book edition)

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!

GILDED ASHES is a complete stand-alone story. It is a new version of Cinderella. Maia's mother made a deal with the Gentle Lord on her deathbed to protect her daughter at all costs. The only problem? She has the ability to destroy anyone, and hinders Maia's ability to truly be happy in life. Maia is so, so afraid of what her mother's anger may unleash, and has to pretend constantly to be happy in order to appease her. When her stepsister Koré orders Maia to deliver letters to Lord Anax so that he'll fall in love with her brains and choose her as his future bride, Maia is more than happy to do so. If she can get her stepsisters out of the house, it's two less people her mother can destroy. But Maia never anticipates that she'll begin looking forward to these daily encounters...

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.!
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The cover doesn't really match CRUEL BEAUTY, but it does have similar themes. For example, there are stairs that go onward, and there are flowers!

I like that the same font is used, too!

The cover doesn't jump out and grab me and scream Cinderella, but it's simplicity still has a Cinderella feel when you know what it is! 
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray // HarperTeen Impulse
Received: Purchased

A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale, GILDED ASHES is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author's debut novel, CRUEL BEAUTY. 

Orphan Maia doesn't see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia's father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother's approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they'll all be struck dead by the curse. 

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn't believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What's the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she'll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife. 

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn't believe in love. Anax can't help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can't help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother's deadly bargain?


  1. I just bought this but my Kindle has been glitching. I'm dying to read it, even though, like you, I'm usually wary of novellas. It sounds amazing!


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