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?
HarperTeen Impulse is a digital imprint focused on young adult short stories and novellas, with new releases the first Tuesday of each month.
If you don't read this one, you will miss out one of the best novellas.
Gilded Ashes is actually a really long short story. It features Maia who is an orphan. She has to pretend to be happy at all cost because otherwise it will be death. And then there's Anax, who's hurt badly by his childhood best friend. Fate brought them together, and Maia is willing to do everything to keep Anax safe -- even if it means breaking both of their hearts.
Unlike Cruel Beauty, the traits of the original Cinderella story are quite significant. Maia, her stepmother and stepsisters, Anax, the ball, etc. Only things are so much twisted here. Maia is not an orphan longing for love, and Anax doesn't believe in love either. Everything is so much darker in Gilded Ashes. But as you read through pages, you can't help but fall in love with this book. Part of the reason is that Gilded Ashes captures the spirit of Cinderella perfectly when it seems like everything is out of place and takes a slightly wicked edge. If you like a fairy tale re-write with the spirit of the original one, this is the book you should go for.
The events are so much more intense in the novella. Nothing is wholly innocent. Not the stepmother, not the stepsisters, not Anax, and certainly not Maia. Even the world itself is tainted by darkness because of the Gentle Lord. Yes, the Gentle Lord/Ignifex from Cruel Beauty. You might be amazed to see how his part fits into Maia's story. The chemistry between Maia and Anax is just... there are no words to describe it. So the best way for you to understand is just read the book.
Gilded Ashes is filled with intensity, fear, and heat. You will not be disappointed.