Gilded Ashes

Gilded Ashes: A Cruel Beauty Novella - Rosamund Hodge

I picked this up immediately after finishing Cruel Beauty, and although it was a quicker read than I was hoping, I enjoyed it. 


A subtle horror is quickly established, which seems appropriate for both the universe and the story of Cinderella herself. I actually really loved the inclusion of Mother's ghost, both because it was creepy and I find that fun and because it gave at least a relatively valid reason for Cinderella not attempting to leave that house. I have often found that moderately to severely questionable. Here, Maia doesn't leave because if she did, odds are high her mother's ghost would murder the remaining members of the family, and even if a case could be made for the stepmother, Thea, the youngest of the stepsisters, is an innocent who absolutely does not deserve that. 


The stepsisters feel like real characters, even when their actions are not always completely likeable, and they also feel quite different, which many adaptations do not bother with at all. 


I loved the connections to Cruel Beauty, especially

the fact that both mothers in the story had made a bargain with the Gentle Lord and that he even shows up.

(show spoiler)

I do question the timeline of this story, though. Given what happened at the end of Cruel Beauty, 

did this story ever actually happen? The events would have relied heavily on bargains made, and if the Gentle Lord was never there to make the bargains...I am possibly over-thinking this, since even if it was lost, it happened at least once,

(show spoiler)

but I would be interested to see what (if any) provisions for this are made in the next book in the series. 


I greatly appreciated that the idea of Prince Charming not recognizing Cinderella was ridiculous. 


"You," I choke out. "How did you--I'm wearing a mask."


He grins. "Do you think I wouldn't recognize your voice? Or your chin, or your eyes? Or do you think I wouldn't notice you're the only woman here with chapped hands?"


Anax is filled in quite well for a fairy tale prince the heroine doesn't have to actually live with, which was lovely. I appreciated the plot device that got them to meet each other before the ball. 


All of the ramifications of everything going awry at the end didn't feel completely handled, but I am not sure they were really supposed to have been. Both this and Cruel Beauty ended in a traditional fairy tale way, but not "happily ever after." This fits in well with the tone of the stories.