Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: Castles in Their Bones
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
ARC?: Yes

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.
Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.
The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.
Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?


Review

Thank you to the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have loved everything that Laura Sebastian has written. Ash Princess was an amazing YA trilogy, and Half Sick of Shadows was an amazing standalone adult book. Therefore, I was BEYOND excited when I got an e-ARC of this book. I was literally drooling with happiness. You have no idea how much I was dancing around. I went into this series expecting to be four or five starring it. And then I started reading the book. And I was disappointed. I felt my stomach drop and my heart sink. I was imagining it right? I was hoping that I was imagining it. Because this couldn’t be one of my most anticipated reads letting me down, could it?

Sadly, it did. I struggled over what I was going to rate this book in the end, because the concept was fabulous. It seemed like something that I would adore – written by a favorite author!! How dare it let me down? And yet, there were aspects of this book that I struggled with overall.

First, the writing didn’t feel up to par as with Ash Princess. It just didn’t read the same – and something about it bothered me, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.

Then you have the three POVs, and sisters, all of which were very different, and had different personalities. I thought it was nice that you could see that they were distinct. However, the downside is that I was more interested in Daphne’s story than anyone else’s. I felt that she was more fleshed out of the three sisters.

Another aspect I struggled with was that I felt the pacing and the balance of intrigue and action just wasn’t working for me the way that I wanted it to.

I was absolutely desperate to love this book, and I just feel overall for me, the book wasn’t as good as I had hoped. There was something missing for me…and I don’t know what that spark is. No one is more disappointed that I that I’m not giving this a four or five star rating.

I am giving it 3.5 stars, because I did enjoy the book. But I’m still sad that I didn’t love it. That ending though…that ending was something and gives me hope for the sequels!

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Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy, retelling
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.


On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.


When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.


As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.


Review

5 stars because it made me cry

I am generally easily pleased with any King Arthur retelling. I grew up on Mary Stewart, Stephen Lawhead, TA Barron and Marian Zimmer Bradley. I loved all of those books. But one of the books that made the most impact on me was a book titled, “I am Morgan Le Fay”, which was all about our favorite sorceress from her POV. Think Marian Zimmer Bradley lite. So I was never more pleased than when Kiersten White wrote from Guinevere’s perspective, and when Tracy Deonn took a whole new take on the Arthurian myth. I love when things get mixed up. So obviously when I heard Laura Sebastian was taking on the Lady of Shallot I was so beyond excited. I love when myths take women and put them front and center.

Elaine was an amazing character, and I love the way Sebastian incorporated her into the myth with more agency. And I adored Morgana in this one. Actually, I liked all the characters to be honest. I got really invested in them despite knowing what happens in the end. You would think that by now I would be used to the fact that it would be a sad ending.

I cried my way through this book. It made me feel so many emotions and I could not contain them. Instead I had to hold the book and rock myself through the feelings. I didn’t quite succeed.

I will say there definitely was a queer overtone to the book which I liked. I just think there were a few slow parts in the book that were a bit of a struggle to get through, but didn’t drag the book down overmuch.

I love Sebastian’s writing style. She drew me in and kept me reading. It was so easy to read honestly. It was an enjoyment.

I gave it five stars because it made me feel all the emotions and cry. I need Sebastian to write more like this, because I enjoyed it SO much.

If you ever like MZB, you will probably like this book.

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Author: Laura Sebastian
Series: Ash Princess
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner. For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


Review

Theo — now Thora — was once the Princess of the realm. An invading king killed her mother and kept her captive until Theo, forced to make a hard decision decides to start fighting back.

Oh wow! I just picked this up when I was at work the other day because the cover looked so cool. I’m a sucker for cool covers. I opened the first page, read the prologue and went “Yep. This definitely seems like the book for me.”

And hurrah! I was right! It was for me! In all the right ways I loved it. First of all, Theo. Theo is an amazing character. Because you see her growth and change. You see that she is fighting, but trying to fight in her own way. She wants to be good, to do good, but she also knows she can’t do it without a little sacrifice. Without a doubt, Theo is now one of my favorite female characters of all time for a YA fantasy series. I find her likable, and far from annoying. She has a strength that I adore.

The romance was there, but toned down. I like how although it definitely seems love triangle-y, it isn’t totally that way. There are nuances to it and I really appreciate that. I normally can’t abide love triangles. I always inevitably get irritated at them, but Sebastian did this one well. Yay!

The plot too, is good. It isn’t overly intricate, but it didn’t have to be. You know clearly where this is going, and it is going to set us up for another book. I can’t wait to read it, because I’m hoping it will be as awesome as this one is!

I think the villain was very obvious, and not a lot of nuance to him, but our future enemy for Theo is going to be awesome. I am going to be eagerly waiting to see how that plays out, because we only got one side of them before from Theo’s view. I hope to see more of what happens between them.

Overall an excellent first book!

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