Title: Ashes of Glass
Author: Emma Hill (E.J. Hill)
Genre: Fiction/ Romance/ Fairytale/ YA
Source: WordPress Request
Favourite Quote: ‘Pink blossoms peak from between its leaves, they are so perfect and beautiful – they are like the finest china. Part of me wishes I could capture them like this, but I suppose if they were always blooming, we wouldn’t treasure them so much.’
*A copy was given to me by the author for an honest review*
When her father remarried Lady Durante a widowed mother with two daughters, Arella Marceau thought their family would be whole again after the death of her mother and that her father would be happy. But when her father suddenly passes away whilst traveling, leaving her alone with her stepmother and stepsisters, her world turns upside down when she is forced to take the role as their servant in her own home. Life takes a positive turn when Arella is rescued at the market after being knocked down by a passerby. Freddie, her ‘Prince Charming’, is keen to meet her again to which she instantly agrees.
When it is discovered that her father left behind a huge debt after his death, Lady Durante has no choice but to sell the house and put Arella to work for the remaining debt to be paid. Her new disturbing creditor, Lord Francilo Difortunato, sets up residence in her father’s old house, whilst Arella finds a position as a scullery maid at the royal palace. It’s there where she discovers her Freddie is non other than the Prince himself, heir to the Kingdom of Ormandy.
‘”What are you doing here?” I ask breathlessly, already wishing this had not happened.
“I might ask you the same question,” Freddie says.
For a moment I am left speechless, lost for the right words to answer, but then I ask,
“You are a Prince?”
At the same time, he asked,
“You are a servant?”
We stare at each other wide-eyed while our brains attempt to comprehend what is happening.’
Ashes of Glass is a retelling of Cinderella which was an absolute pleasure to read. I was worried at first that the story was too similar to the original and Disney remake, Arella’s mother dies, her father remarries to make the family whole again bringing along two stuck up stepsisters both with no compassion or any likeable factors, her father dies, and she’s forced to become a servant in her old family home. Thankfully at this stage it begins it’s own story whilst keeping the traditional happily ever after we’d expect from a Cinderella retelling. The main difference that I liked in this retelling is how the Prince and Arella find out the truth about each other’s station in life and decide that it doesn’t matter right from the start. This was very refreshing for a fairytale not to be swept up in lies. The story continues with them meeting up in secret as Prince and servant which I found even more enticing, each time wondering if this will be the time they get caught whilst building up their relationship. I also liked how the evil stepmother and horrible stepsisters weren’t actually the main villain in this tale, in-fact, they rarely make appearances at all after Arella starts working at the palace.
‘He sees me the instant I step into the pearly light. A smile lights up his eyes, it makes them sparkle brighter than the stars.
I move nearer and say timidly, “Hello, Prince Friederic.”
He frowns at my words, “Don’t call me that, it’s just Freddie.”
I move to stand beside him, “It’s not right.”
“Then let it not be right. I care not.”
For a moment we are silent, neither of us exactly sure what to say. I want to speak, but his position as Prince separates us.’
I really did enjoy this Cinderella story, however I must say I felt it was a bit stale at times when it came to the relationship between Arella and the Prince. I felt more first-love flirty excitement was needed. They met almost every single day, constantly leaving notes for each other, but you didn’t get to witness all of their discourse which could have been used to bring more spark to their relationship, for them to get to know each other more personally with an audience rather than ‘Arella told me of this…’ later on. When they both found out who the other really was, it didn’t change a single thing, they still wanted to see each other. The author did a great job with their meet-cute, the first time they saw each other they knew, but after that I didn’t feel the passionate emotional enthusiasm as much as I’d hoped too as both characters have a similar reserved disposition.
The characters overall were told very well. Most of them didn’t need a big part or much dialogue for the author to express how important or uncomfortable they made each scene. Lady Durant brought an essence of power and expected status which you could perceive through the pages. Prince Friederic brought a sense of comfort and safety, even before we discovered who he is as just Freddie. Using the settings in particular to introduce Francilo Difortunato definitely improved his dark demeanour, how Arella walked into her old home, a place she had felt safe and happy growing up, and felt instead uneasy and tense even before being introduced to her new disturbing creditor in her father’s old office.
I really liked how parts of the story were told in Prince Friederic‘s perspective to get a small glimpse into the role of royalty and responsibility, plus the relationship he has with his father, King Albert of Ormandy. I absolutely adored his father and his bizarre passion for elephants, it made his character all the more innocent and lovely for a man in such high status.
Overall Ashes of Glass was a delightfully sweet story that I really enjoyed. Thank you Emma for approaching me and providing me with a copy. I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.
A servant struggling to survive.
A prince becoming a leader.
A snake seeking power.
Arella Marceau, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, finds herself diminished to a lowly servant who must obey the every whim of her stepmother. Then she meets Freddie who is handsome, kind, strong, and of course, very charming. They spend an afternoon together, exploring ruins, becoming lost in the forest, and dealing with gypsies and Arella begins to fall for the young man. When a mysterious debt arises, it inevitably tears Arella away from what she thought might have been a shred of happiness.
Arella accepts her dismal fate, but working as a scullery maid at the palace is a tumultuous task. For it is soon revealed to her that Freddie is Prince Friederic, heir to the throne of Ormandy. Even though discovery would mean life-shattering consequences, Freddie and Arella defy social expectations and meet in the safety of a secret garden. To complicate things further, Arella’s creditor seems to be frighteningly fascinated with her, as well as with the monarchy. What kind of secrets does he keep behind his black eyes?
As Arella’s life spins out of control, she must hold to her love for Freddie and to her belief that God has a perfect plan.