A Curse of Ash and Iron by Christine Norris
Genre: Historical-Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release: May 21, 2015
Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson
Benjamin Grimm knows the theater is much like real life. In 1876 Philadelphia, people play their parts, hiding behind the illusion of their lives, and never revealing their secrets.
When he reunites with his childhood friend Eleanor Banneker, he is delighted. His delight turns to dismay when he discovers she has been under a spell for the past 7 years, being forced to live as a servant in her own home, and he realizes how sinister some secrets can be. She asks for his help, and he can’t refuse. Even if he doesn’t believe in ‘real’ magic, he can’t abandon her.
Ellie has spent the long years since her mother’s death under the watchful eye and unforgiving eye of her stepmother. Bewitched and hidden in plain sight, it seems no one can help Ellie escape. Not even her own father, who is under a spell of his own. When she sees Ben one evening, it seems he is immune to the magic that binds her, and her hope is rekindled along with her friendship.
But time is running short. If they do not find a way to break the spell before midnight on New Year’s Eve, then both Ellie and her father will be bound forever.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Curiosity Quills Press in exchange for an honest review.
I love fairytale retellings. I like knowing the general outline of the story and seeing how the author puts a new twist on it depending on the theme of their story and what they want to do with it. A Curse of Ash and Iron does this almost to perfection.
I thought the prologue was a bit misplaced, but it was there to introduce us to both Ben and Ellie. Without this, it would have been a bit strange for Ben to suddenly recognize this girl and there would have been flashbacks and nobody wants that. However, the first part of the novel is very slow. Until about 30% or so, I was a little bored. I think if I didn't know how it was going to end (ish), I would have had a hard time continuing with this one. But after that, it picked up pace right away.
I really enjoyed Ellie. She played her part of servant well, but I loved her moments of rage and when she was rude to her stepmother. Yes, she was punished for it. But it was better than seeing this girl get walked all over by a cruel woman. I thought Ellie was one of the best written "Cinderellas" I have read in a while.
By the end of the novel, I did not like Ben. At the beginning, he was very likeable and it was obvious he was going places, but his behaviour at the end was disgusting in my opinion. No matter how mad you are at somebody, you don't do that to them. I did enjoy his relationship with his brother Harry, I would have liked to see more of that.
Ellie's stepsister Rebecca was so great. I liked that this retelling broke the storyline of two step sisters that are so obsessed with themselves that they mistreat their stepsister. Because Rebecca was genuinely nice. She was always trying to help Ellie and make sure that Ellie's life was just as happy as her own.
The main theme in the novel was about freedom and free choice. Ellie and her father had that taken away from them and therefore so did Rebecca. Being able to make a decision for themselves was really important to these girls and I think that is a good message to be sending to the young girls that will be reading this. It is important to not do what someone thinks is "best" for you, you have to do what is best for yourself. However, I did not like that the other society girls were portrayed as catty bitches who only thought about one thing because there is no way that only Ellie and Rebecca were girls who had interests other than finding a husband. Unrealistic.
The only thing I wasn't (and never really are) a big fan of was the insta-love. I feel like I would have enjoyed it more if Ellie and Hamilton had met and talked a couple more times before she wasn't sure if he fit into that part of the spell. But I did like her decisions in regards to him in the epilogue-y type chapter we got at the end.
Overall: 4/5 stars. I liked this one and if you want a Cinderella retelling that doesn't quite fit the regular mould, I would definitely recommend picking this one up.
About The Author:
Christine Norris is the author of several speculative fiction works for children and adults. She is extremely overeducated, having a B.S. Temple University (Kinesiology), a B.A. from UMUC (English), AND a Masters in Library and Information Science from Southern Connecticut State. All of which means she loves to be in the library, which is her secret day job (whoops…).
She is married with one son, two rescued cats, a rescued Jack Russell, and a rescued palomino rabbit. There’s a lot of rescuing. She also has a complete weakness for Doctor Who, Sherlock, and other British television shows, as well as an addiction to movies, re-told fairy tales, and police procedural shows. She believes in fairies and lives in New Jersey.
Find Christine Norris Online:
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