‘ASH & BRAMBLE,’ BY SARAH PRINEAS. A 2015 YA lit Cinderella re-telling about a seamstress named 'Pin.' All review text is © Rissi JC

Fairytale re-telling’s, re-imaginings or re-makes (however you coin the popular reemergence of classic fairytales), no matter where they fit, I love them all. Or most of them. I’m really conflicted about this novel. Before I get into the specifics of that, let’s talk a little overview.

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The story follows a young Seamstress who cannot remember Before. Her life is a blank, she is Nothing. But then there is the young and handsome Shoemaker. What’s his story? Who is he? A spark begins to grow in Pin, and with a daring escape plan, she and the Shoemaker scale the thorn covered wall to freedom. But life outside the fortress is anything but pleasant, and really, all Pin has exchanged is one servitude for another.

Ash & Bramble, by Sarah Prineas | Book Review

Much of this book is dazzlingly imagined plus a touch of macabre. There are unique elements aplenty and that’s what makes the story reign as a boldly inspired re-telling. Broken into three parts, it’d be fair to say, the reading of this got off to a slow start. I had to kind of push myself to keep reading, figuring it’d be fair to give the novel a fair chance. And I’m glad I did. The first part did nothing to convince of the legitimacy of what was to come. But once part two rolled in and more familiar markers took shape, I really began to like this story – and even before that, once Pin had more interaction with the Shoemaker, things pick up.  

The middle act sets up the more traditional elements of the book with a stepmother and stepsisters, though not everything is the same. Shifting between Pin’s first-person narrative and the Shoemaker’s third person perspective, it’s clear early on this isn’t going to be familiar, particularly true of the romance. A smidgeon of a love triangle works its way onto the pages, but nothing terrible. As far as the love story goes, it doesn’t really convince me. It’s more “instant love,” particularly on the part of the male character. I think my biggest gripe (silly as it may be) with the story are the characters names. The meaning for this is clear, but still, reading a book in which the lead hero is “Shoe” through 400-some pages is kind of silly. This makes it difficult to take these characters too seriously.  

Lest anyone think otherwise, there are some unusual cues that play out exactly as I’d imagine the author wants. I cannot say too much because of spoilers, but the “bigger world” picture is insanely clever. Plus, putting the Godmother in the villainess role is beyond brilliant (saying this shouldn’t be a spoiler since it’s in the synopsis). Though it has merits, something is holding me back from declaring this a favorite. It’s a conundrum because I do admire the qualifiers that do make this such a unique story, but then flipping the page, there were a few too many annoyances (insta-love – that to me, wasn’t “instant chemistry,” it was meant to be love; the characters names) to endear the twists and turns.

It’s disappointing because I so wanted to like this. The tagline alone intrigues in ways other fairytales do not. Being contrary, I will say, I did enjoy my time in this world, particularly in Pin’s world. Mostly this was because her portions were most interesting. There’s some sass and of course, a heroine who isn’t afraid of fighting. If you like re-imagined classics or Sarah’s writing, Ash and Bramble will be an inspired, unique novel you’ll not wish to miss.  

About the Book:

Author: Sarah Prineas
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher Provided ARC
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere: Amazon ǀ Goodreads
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org ǀ Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Fairytale
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sincere thanks to the publisher, HarperTeen for providing a complimentary ARC copy of Ash & Bramble in exchange for an honest review.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I've been really curious about this one ever since I saw it on a couple of "Top Ten" lists, so I'm really excited you read and reviewed it! Which, by the way, your review is fabulous as always. :) I feel like the character's names would annoy me as well. But it does sound interesting! And that cover is really pretty. Thanks for the great review, Rissi. :)

    1. I'm really conflicted about this one, Bekah. On the one hand I enjoyed the novel greatly because it's very clever. On the other, some of the small annoyances took me "out" of the world and story, you know? It's one of those books I do like… but there are "issues," too. Hope you enjoy if you read it. :)

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