Thank you to Delacorte Books for a finished copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!
Princess Theodosia was a prisoner in her own country for a decade. Renamed the Ash Princess, she endured relentless abuse and ridicule from the Kaiser and his court. But though she wore a crown of ashes, there is fire in Theo’s blood. As the rightful heir to the Astrean crown, it runs in her veins. And if she learned nothing else from her mother, she learned that a Queen never cowers.
Now free, with a misfit army of rebels to back her, Theo must liberate her enslaved people and face a terrifying new enemy: the new Kaiserin. Imbued with a magic no one understands, the Kaiserin is determined to burn down anyone and everything in her way.
The Kaiserin’s strange power is growing stronger, and with Prinz Søren as her hostage, there is more at stake than ever. Theo must learn to embrace her own power if she has any hope of standing against the girl she once called her heart’s sister.
For her people Queen Theodosia would do anything, put them above all else. Just how much and who is she willing to sacrifice in these final battles for her throne?
In Ember Queen we see the rebellion reach its peak. The fire mine was taken, but it’s a small victory compared to what needs to come next to overtake the thrown. Sacrifices were made by everyone and never as a reader did I find any of it easy or the challenge of these battles lacking in any way.
I was not prepared for all the feels in this book. For me the Ash Princess series was not just about a country reclaiming itself, but people reclaiming their own identities and the friends/relationships they formed on their journey. The relationships between Theo and Soren, Theo and her friends, the friendships between the shadows and especially the relationship between Cress and Theo. There was just so much to unpack within each of those and get some much needed closure.
Most of the book was dedicated to exploring the twisted relationship between Cress and Theo. I didn’t feel bad for Cress but I did pity her. She was as much a victim as she was a murderer, twisted because of her countries beliefs and what had been done to her. Theo was so conflicted about Cress and I was right there with her.
The love triangle that wasn’t was finally quashed as well and thank goodness. The only reason this triangle didn’t bug me too much or effect my rating is because it was always in the background and never hindered the story. There was no pettiness between the boys nor did Theo have it in the forefront of her mind. I knew who she would end of picking in the end and I’m glad that an actual concrete decision was made not just a situational decision.
Throughout the novel, Theo is constantly remembering how Blaise said she was and would always put Astrea before anything or anyone else. This resonated with me in a way that no other novel has. She was true to her country and while she had to make tough decisions she never wavered in them. Theo was no some love sick teenager willing to put boys before her country or even her friends. I love her strength and how hard that was for her while also not being something she questioned. Theo started out this series as a complicit prisoner, willing to stay quiet and stay alive, who grew into this strong women who was admired for her and not just the title she bore.
For Theo and her country the end couldn’t come soon enough, for me it was all too quick. The Astreans fought valiantly not just for revenge but for decades of peace. This book touched me in unimaginable ways and I’ll be sad to say goodbye not only to Theo, but Art, Blaise, Heron, Soren, Erik, Dragonsbane and evening Cress.