Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Top Ten YA Novels 2014 #8: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

It's actually not a full-length novel. A novella set in the same universe as Cruel Beauty. You know what that is.

The eighth place belongs to

Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge


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.


Date Read: April 3, 2014

My Review:

My rating: 9/10


Top 3 reasons why I like it.

1. It's so freaking twisted

I'm not talking about plot twists. In fact there's... probably none. But the darkest corner of Maia and Anax is clearly shown. And damn, isn't that completely twisted. It's like with Nyx from Cruel Beauty, where everything is pushed to the extreme. It's not about honor and respect and stuff, no. It's about facing their darkest evil. Let me tell you, their deepest secret is pretty scary by normal standards. I like how Hodge didn't sugar-coat Maia and Anax's dark side. She literally put it under the spotlight, exposing their greatest flaw. It's a daring act. Not only do I appreciate this brave behavior, it's also masterfully written. 

2. Uncanny resemblance between Cinderella and this story

Don't get me wrong, I know this is a retelling of Cinderella. It's subtle enough that you can view it as any wildly imaginative story, but not so subtle that you can actually see the similarities between to the two stories. That takes a lot of skills. But the part where it actually stuns me is how Hodge twists the story into something even more sinister. Cinderella Maia has a dark secret that can kill (literally). The prince Anax is definitely not your dreamy charming prince lord either. Maia's family is even more sick (and not the good kind) than in the original tale. Why do I call it uncanny? Besides the perfectly balanced tone of the story, Hodge surely knows how to turn a fairy tale into something terrifying yet oddly beautiful.

3. I just like Maia

What can I say? While it's clear that she has quite a big heart underneath all her defenses, she's actually quite bipolar in the way that she's more sane than most other people. Hodge portrayed her as a character who nails the meaning of love behind all the haze of happiness and protection but knows nothing about the true appearance of love. She's an extremely complex character. And she also comes up with the best lines. Very tactful and as Anax said, like a chameleon. She can blend in with her words and be unnoticeable, yet still stands out in an unique way. Maia is one of the more complicated characters I've read about, and I really respect her wits and honor.


Why I recommend this book or series:

I like Gilded Ashes more than Cruel Beauty, even though I like it and it's the main book. Gilded Ashes is a novella with the perfect length, just enough to make us feel content about the story. There are times where a book or a novella or even a series stretches to god knows where, which can be annoying sometimes. Gilded Ashes is the perfect quick read. And yet, it leaves a mark in my heart. I find myself re-reading it a bunch of times. It's a magical world full of sins and regret and darkness, and yet so fine and delicate and extraordinary.


Do I like the cover?

Not really. It's too extravagant and grand, even though it suits the word "gilded". I prefer something simple and sweet. I think the cover of Cruel Beauty is actually better. 


Top 3 favorite scenes: (Spoiler Alert!) 

(I can't do three or I will spill out the whole plot. I will just tell you my favorite scene)

1) The park scene

I don't exactly know why this is my favorite scene. There are a lot of good scenes in the novella. But it's definitely a symbolic one.


OTP: There's only one couple in the book, come on.


P.S. Is there going to be another book set in the same universe? Because that would be awesome.

P.P.S. For those who think Crimson Bound is another novel set in the Cruel Beauty universe, no. It's another standalone set in a whole new world.

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