Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C.S. Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Right. I think I'm gonna put this at something like 3.5 stars.
Kingdom of Ash and Soot starts off with a very Cinderella vibe. After the death of her father, Eleanora and her brother Benedict are treated as servants by their (evil) step-mother. The plot does veer away after that, but the Cinderella-ish undertones remain throughout the rest of the story, especially when she's later given the nickname "Ella." Lady Penelope appears on the scene, the siblings are invited to join a secret society, spying and shenanigans ensue.
The novel's written in the first person, so obviously the character of the main protagonist is going to be a big deal for me--Eleanora is almost on that edge of annoying-idiot-kid but just mature enough that I'm not exasperated by her, which is probably why I'm not super over the top about this, and yet I don't hate it. Let's just leave it as Johnson's got a pretty good balance going.
Overall, it's enticing enough to keep reading, but the politics are a little dense. And since I'm not super invested or super interested in European politics, I ended up skimming a bit. Main point to keep in mind: the revolution removed the monarchy, now someone's plotting to put a prince back in power... resulting in a lot of dead bodies.
Anyway, politics aside, there's this Cinderella thing going on, right? And there's this love triangle thing, right? (Duh, it's YA, what do you expect?) I had my guesses and it was partially correct but the final twisty revelation at the end!!! Was twisty! And unexpected! And of course, Johnson then had to end on a cliffhanger. So it's like, darn it, I DO need to read the next one. Hopefully, it will arrive before I've forgotten everything about this one.
Note: I received a digital copy of this book from the author. I was given the book with no expectation of a positive review and the review is my own.
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