ASH & BRAMBLE by Sarah Prineas


Age Range: 12 - 16
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A girl, a shoe, a clock, a prince: familiar elements are here remixed into a very different “Cinderella.”

Pin awakens in the Godmother’s fortress with no memory, only a silver thimble to give her a clue to her past. Resourceful and determined, soon enough she escapes with Shoe, the fortress’ Shoemaker. Captured again, she awakens again as Pen, a stepdaughter in a town where the prince will hold a ball. Meanwhile, Shoe searches for her and finds that she’s caught in the gears of Story, whose agenda the Godmother seeks to complete. Prineas’ take on “Cinderella” is high-concept but imperfectly executed; the pacing and characterization in particular suffer, largely because the heroine (and plot) are literally rewritten a quarter of the way through (with Pin/Pen less immediately likable in her second, lengthier, iteration). Story as the villain, crafting endings regardless of individual desires, makes storybreaker Shoe the rightful hero here, but Pin/Pen and a love triangle with an inevitable ending take center stage instead, while underdeveloped but fascinating characters from other fractured tales join Shoe in the wings (a lesbian iteration of Rapunzel and a huntsman pining for Snow White among them).

Torn between fairy tale, romance, and almost dystopic rebellion tale, this doesn’t entirely cohere despite the fantastic imagination fueling it; still, flaws notwithstanding, this retelling is not without charm. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-233794-8
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2015


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