West, Hannah Kingdom of Ash and Briars, 358 pages. Holiday House, 2016. $18. Language: PG (6 swears, 0 ‘f’); Violence: PG-13 (battles and deaths); Mature Content: G.
There is a magical pond in Bristal’s kingdom that will confer powers and immortality upon a few special people that enter its waters – everyone else who dares will die. When Brital is kidnapped and thrown into the waters, she survives – one of only three who have for the last 100’s of years. From poor orphan kitchen maid, she is thrust quickly into a world of danger and intrigue where she had better learn to use her powers quickly, or death may come an entirely different way.
West’s first novel draws you in immediately and almost refuses to let you go. Whether you are looking for magic or a fairytale or danger or perhaps a little romance, you will find plenty to love here. Personally, I wish West had refrained from inferences to Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella – this could have so easily been a whole cloth new fantasy world. That aside, it is still a stunning read.
MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher