Review | Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

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GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: 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?Published by: Epic Reads Impulse on April 1 2014Format: Epub


"My mother knew that wishes are always bought with pain. She thought she could shield me from the price, but she was wrong. Maybe I could do better. Maybe I could word my bargain carefully enough that nobody I loved would pay. But somebody would. And I know one thing my mother never did. I know what it is like to live every day and every hour by the fruits of someone else’s wretched bargain. To see people suffer and know, They suffer because I am loved."

Maia lies every single day. She lies to herself, her family and all those around her because the truth is too deadly to reveal. She pretends to be happy because if she is not, the consequences are disastrous. Upon undertaking the task of helping her stepsister marry the Prince, she unintentionally becomes close to him, forming a bond which she had never wanted with anyone.

This novella was fantastic, eerie and dark. I adore Rosamund Hodge in every way; her retellings, her writing style, her plot. Just, wow. The shadow of menace and fear hung over every page like a cloud.[...]
Maia's mother's presence was not a glowing memory from the past, but a threatening and powerful character who became Maia's prison. The creepy atmosphere was created really well, with the dilapidated house plagued by demons in the shadows.

The characters especially were really well developed, especially the stepsisters. Kore and Thea character-wise were my favourite. They were both three-dimensional who were neither good nor bad, but just trying to survive and protect those they love. The relationship between the sisters at the end made me both warmed me inside and made me want to cry.

The love story was amazing. Considering the fact that this is a novella and a short one at that, it seemed that insta-love would be near on impossible to avoid. Boy was I wrong. Anax and Maia's relationship was established really well and evolved at a pace that was easy to see. None of this instalove bullshit here. I loved Anax as a love interest. He had a great personality, charming and flawed. Together, they had a great chemistry - their conversations were meaningful and genuine, laced with humour. They could be themselves with each other and it showed.

I eagerly await more from Rosamund Hodge, I am sure she won't disappoint.


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