Ashes of Glass by E. J Hill

Ashes of Glass is a gorgeous retelling of Cinderella, and you all know what a sucker I am for a retelling!

Arella’s upbringing is one we have heard numerous times, both through print and on screen. For this reason Emma Hill presents this chapter of Arella’s life almost as a misty, memory montage; preferring to focus on the upcoming tale she has to tell. I must say I greatly appreciated this originality and confindence: Hill knows she has an absolute gem of a story here and doesn’t need to pad it out with the sad turn of events we all know.

Anyone who has read “So, This is Love” by Elizabeth Lim will see some similarities within the two storylines in that Ella begins working in the Palace. However, Hill’s Ella is , in my opinion, a much stronger character from the outset. She has no qualms in challenging Prince Freddie’s prejudices in respects to gypsies and, on the whole, does not change her behaviour towards Freddie once she discovers he is the Prince.

Ella and Freddie are only two of a whole cast of characters who are beautifully portrayed within this novel. I really loved the added details such as the King’s interest in elephants, the fact that the Duke was nicer (but still quite strict) and the fact that Ella had a friend alongside her. All of these factors made the story a lot more real than the classic fairy tale. Hill made it so easy for the reader to fall in love with Ella and Freddie as a couple, especially because they were not perfect and experienced real emotions such as doubt and jealousy. If anything, our love for these two made it even easier for us to hate the villain, Lord DiFortunato.

Now, we all love to hate the sleazy, slimy villain in a story, but this guy was something else! Emma Hill’s villain literally made my skin crawl and, at the point in the story where Ella’s curiosity puts her in a whole heap of danger, the suspense was too much I had to skim read just to know whether she was going to be OK.

The one character I did want a bit more of was Lady Izabella: I suspect she was likely Freddie’s godmother due to her friendship with the Queen and I think this could have been cleverly played on a little more. Don’t get me wrong she was a charming (and necessary) background character but I would have liked to see her a little more.

EJ Hill also included a lot of nods to the original fairy tale which were really appreciated. Of course the iconic pink dress becomes ruined and the ballgown is a must but Ella’s affectionate use of Prince Charming as a nickname for Freddie was just gorgeous. Oh and losing the shoe: genius!
This is not to say this story lacks originality though. There is a thrilling sub plot into the investigation into the King’s death which moves alongside and intersects Arella’s plotline beautifully.

I would say that the chapters do shift from Arella to Freddie quite often and this could be quite confusing at times. Also faith plays a huge part within the story. I already knew Emma Hill was a Christian so this wasn’t a surprise and it didn’t put me off the story at all. I do think that it was included quite heavily though.

If you want the story of Cinderella, with a swoon-worthy Prince, more action, less Stepmother/sisters and an underlying murder mystery. This is the book for you!

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