Reviewed by Abby.
This book follows the path of a 16 year old, Theodosia, beaten and abused by the leader of her country. She is a prisoner of the Kaiser, her mother, the fire queen, murdered by his soldiers. Theo was the next leader, but now she little more than a toy, the princess of the ashes of her beaten kingdom. Even her name has been taken from her, as she is now called Thora.
Every day she strives to be the Kaiser's perfect puppet, wearing his crumbling crown of ash, all so she might not be beaten, might not have her dress ripped from her in front of a jeering audience.
Her situation and perseverance will capture readers hearts as they beg her to run away, despite the consequences, especially after she is forced to kill her own father, a man she barely knew. But they will also call for her to stay, as a romance blossoms between her and the king's son, Soren.
She manipulates his feelings for her, his anger at his father's treatment of her, as she ignores her own true feelings for him.
Though this read is exciting it is treacherous ground, as it deals with subjects and concepts unknown to younger readers, some explicit content rather blaring, taking the joy out of victories of the heroin for those un-accustomed to such subjects.
Thora's body is often exposed, although the author does assign herself a line not to be crossed, things are hinted at in the way that she is fondled and touched by the king, forced to wear inappropriate clothes and exposed during beatings. At one point she is relieved that ‘this time’ her dress is not ripped quite so far down the back as other times past.
This read was exciting and ended in a daring cliffhanger that had the reader torn in two, unable to decide who they trusted or which way she should go. I recommend it to (16 -17)< year olds and suggest parental guidance for interested younger readers, though not quite R, this book crosses the line of PG-13.