As I'd said before, I'd been wanting to read Gilded Ashes for a while, because A) Rosamund Hodge is fabulous and B) it is set in the same world of Cruel Beauty-- WHICH I LOVE.
(Also, Ignifex makes an appearance, except he is not referred to as Ignifex, because, well, obviously, the main character doesn't know his name. I nearly shrieked with joy when it dawned on me that he was in the book).
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?
|TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.|
Maia is no where near the same person as Nyx (the main character of Cruel Beauty). She is sweet and gentle and kind because she's trying to protect others from the wrath of her mother (who is a ghost). She's terrified of showing her real feelings, and she's hidden them for so long that sometimes it's as though she forgets she has them.
This is not a dual-POV novella. We never get to see what it's like in Anax's mind, only Maia's. Anax was an interesting character, although I admit that I found him a little unlikable at the beginning. He improves-- but I didn't love his character. He was just mediocre, in my opinion.
Another thing: Rosamund Hodge does not do happy endings. She dangles it in front of your face and you think Oh, yes, this is exactly the goodness that these characters deserve and then NOPE. There are tears and blood and so much happens that you wind up gaping at the book-- sort of happy, but mostly just shocked.
Rosamund Hodge does bittersweet endings.
While I loved this novella to bits, the ending felt way too rushed. It felt like things were at a very nice pace-- and then everything bad that could possibly happen, happens. Don't get me wrong-- I actually like it when things go wrong in books. Destruction, chaos... it tends to liven things up a bit. But... it felt overdone.
Would I recommend reading this book? ABSOLUTELY. Would I recommend reading Cruel Beauty first? It's not necessary, but if you want a better understanding of the world, you probably should.