Distiller: Hikari Loftus
Kingdom of Ash and Briars
by Hannah West
Holiday House (September 15, 2016)
Honestly, I spent most of “Kingdom of Ash and Briars” feeling mega cheated. Like, what a missed opportunity! Cramming so much story and such a long timeline into 350 pages. You turn one page and months or years have passed. Friendships and abilities have all progressed in those times and the reader just has to take it in step that on one page our main character doesn’t know how to work magic, and the next page she does.
I am absolutely in love with the idea of this story. The fairytale retelling storyline, the magic, the world, the characters… all of that I just loved so much. There is something to be said for a standalone, but what I wouldn’t give to actually get into the details of this story and fill up all the glossed over and skipped over segments with the time and space to really flesh them out and make this story come to life. (I really wish this could have been a trilogy. I would have suffered the wait between books to give this awesome story the space I felt like it needed.)
There are a lot of excellent characters in this book and I just wanted to really really feel for them. But there was just too much going on and too much that needed to happen in the short page count, and I always felt like it was all tell, tell, tell, and no show. I wanted to love and grieve with these characters and I just never got to the point where I could.
I think you can probably tell that I think this story is pretty awesome, which is why I am mourning the fact that there wasn’t so much more to it. I feel like this could have been very complex if it had been given the space.
Kingdom of Ash and Briars incorporates Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma, and the Chinese legend of Mulan, and it was fun seeing those incorporated into the story so well.
So yes, I can see people enjoying this for a standalone and understanding that the story has to be told this way for all of it to fit. But I loved the story and the characters enough to feel like I was mega cheated out of an epic journey. ha.
Am I too spoiled by series to appreciate the standalone? Or was this really just too much story to fit into one book? I really can’t tell. What do you think?