Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and day out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But her restless heart knows there is something more than this backbreaking servitude, and she captures a glimmer of freedom when she and the brave young Shoemaker make a daring escape.
Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the life the Godmother chooses for—her own fairy-tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.
As Pin tries to fight her arranged path, she finds that a sword is a much better fit for her than a glass slipper, and that the boy who she escaped with is still searching for her and won’t stop until he rescues her—if Pin doesn’t rescue herself first.
Ash & Bramble can best be described as fairytale dystopia. You have this perfect HEA that is the antagonist for the plot, and a strong-willed heroine who shows a middle finger to having her fate set out for her. Pin/Penelope is stuck in a Storybrooke-like world, where the people are compelled to finish out the stories. At first, she finds herself a Seamstress, but soon realizes that she doesn’t fit in with all the skilled slaves in the Godmother’s Story sweatshop/factory/fortress. Living a grey life, the first burst of color is the young Shoemaker, whom she convinces to escape with her.
Then she finds herself in a Cinderella-esque role, only this story doesn’t have her craving to go to the ball, but being compelled to do so. Slavery and destiny are used interchangeably in this book, and a happily ever after is basically a death sentence. I loved how the author reversed the original stories and gave them fun twists. Like the Rapunzel story – saved by another girl. There is the prince who was turned into a toad to stop the story from completing. The plot was centered around the idea that a regular, easy, mapped out future was the one that didn’t necessarily keep you happy; instead if you choose your happiness, even if it is not what was expected, that is better.
Pin is a very vibrant character. She is a queenly character, who takes charge and leads the battle. Shoemaker, on the other hand, is the cautious one, the one who adorably blushes when teased by flirtatious tavern boys (hee hee) and who really wants her to be happy to choose rather than choose him. Cor, the Prince Charming, is not entirely devoid of depth, but he does have his ideas about how she should behave or be treated, to her endless consternation. The characters like the stepmother are not portrayed as evil but victims of their fate, and I think that has an interesting subtext, that fits it neatly with the central idea. The writing completed the mystery and magic of the book, and it was definitely an enjoyable read.
Received a free galley from HarperTeen via Edelweiss; this does not influence my opinions or review.