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Novella mini-review: Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty #0.5) by Rosamund Hodge

A gorgeously written gothic re-telling of Cinderella set in the richly imagined world of Hodge’s debut, Gilded Ashes is a must-read for fans of Cruel Beauty.  Loosely based on the Brothers Grimm version of the fairytale (in which Cinderella is aided not by her fairy godmother, but by the ghost of her mother) Gilded Ashes follows orphan Maia, a girl with a secret so terrible she can never afford to tell the truth, and her stepsisters whose own lives may not be as uncomplicated as they first appear.  When Maia meets hard-to-please Lord Anax, a man she finally feels able to speak truthfully to, their fragile world built on wishes and lies beings to crumble.

As with Cruel Beauty, Hodge’s fresh new take on an often-rehashed story is unparalleled.  Maia’s stepsisters are far from their ugly, one-dimensional Disney counterparts, and the relationship between Maia and her stepfamily is the heart of the novella.  Lord Anax is one of the most refreshingly feminist-friendly young adult love interests I’ve ever read, and I especially enjoyed his character development.  One fan-favourite character from Cruel Beauty makes a guest appearance (if you’ve read Cruel Beauty, you can probably guess who).  Hodge manages to pack so many twists and turns, unpredictable characters and complicated relationships into a relatively short novella, it almost makes me wish Gilded Ashes had been written as a full-length novel.

Gilded Ashes is a wonderfully creepy, feminist twist on the tale of Cinderella, from an author I can’t wait to read more from.

Publisher: HarperTeen Impulse
Rating: 5 stars | ★★★★★
Review cross-posted to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon: US | UK

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