Published by Harper Teen on April 1, 2014
Buy on Amazon
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?
Gilded Ashes is a novella set in the same world as Cruel Beauty. That was all it took to get me to give this book a shot. While I normally don’t love novellas, that was not the case with this one. If more novellas were like Gilded Ashes, I would be a lot more inclined to read them.
It was really easy to tell that Gilded Ashes was set in the same world as Cruel Beauty. There is a cameo from the Gentle Lord but it’s more than that. The setting has the same feel as Cruel Beauty. It’s a gorgeous setting with more than a little bit of magic. The magic in this universe isn’t all good though. There is a lot of dark magic in Maia’s world and it’s the cause of pretty much all her problems in life.
Maia is not your typical Cinderella. She’s strong and fierce and her fairy godmother is not one that I would want. Her family isn’t like the typical Cinderella family either. Her sisters can be cruel but they can also be kind. And when they are cruel, it’s only because they are forced to be. Maia and her stepsisters are all looking for the same thing; love. They just have different ways of looking for it. The relationship between Maia and her stepsisters was really great. It starts off a little rough but all three of the girls really develop throughout the course of the novella. All the characters are surprisingly well-developed for such a short story.
Maia and Anax’s relationship isn’t typical at all. They become friends through a random stroke of fate and from there things start to become more between them. While the relationship did come across as a bit rushed, I expected that. You can’t go from complete strangers to two people in love in 111 pages without rushing some things. However, I didn’t feel like it was a bad thing. While I would have liked a bit more backstory from Anax, I still really liked him. Not as much as Ignifex, that’s for sure, but a close second.
Overall, Gilded Ashes is a fabulous addition to the stories set in the Cruel Beauty universe. I hope that Rosamund Hodge continues to write fairytale retellings because she is truly fabulous at giving them her own spin.
What others are saying about Gilded Ashes:
Paperback Wonderland’s review: “This novella was pretty much amazing, albeit too short.”