I have read a lot of fairy-tale retellings this year. However, I have yet to be disappointed or grow tired of them. ‘A Curse of Ash and Iron’ by Christine Norris has definitely helped in keeping my interest alive.
A retelling of Cinderella, ‘A Curse of Ash and Iron’ incorporates magic, steampunk and 1876 Philadelphia to create a beautiful book that really grabs your attention. I really enjoyed the book from start to finish and I am really pleased that the author included things that might be a bit risky in a YA book.
In this version of the tale, Ellie has been bewitched by her stepmother so that no-one can recognise her and she is forced into servitude. Meeting her childhood friend again for the first time in many years, Ellie realises that it might be possible to break the spell, which must be done by midnight of New Year’s Eve, or else it will become permanent.
The story itself is delightful. I really enjoyed the combination of magic with machine. Getting the balance between creating an original story and staying true to the fairy-tale is quite difficult in these retellings, but Norris does it very well. There were a couple of instances that felt a bit forced in order to maintain a keeping to the Cinderella story but on the whole it was remarkable done. I loved the twist on the fairy godmother and the stepsister. I also really enjoyed the inclusion of Ben as Ellie’s childhood friend as well as Ellie being independent herself.
I personally believe that the characters in this book were very strong – they had their angles, their motives, their personalities and it made them seem quite real. In fact, I think they were actually stronger than the plot. This was particularly evident in that when the main plot came to its head, I was just reading it as I would any other book, but when the character resolutions started to occur, I was so involved that I’m fairly sure the other people on the train thought I was mad.
I am not sure how well I liked the ending. I did see it coming, although I did not want to believe it to happen as I would have quite liked it to end a different way. However, thinking back, the way Norris writes the characters makes this ending the only real ending that would have worked.
I would highly recommend this book. It is beautiful, both cover and contents, and I will be keeping an eye on Christine Norris’ books in the future.
Disclaimer: I received this book for review from NetGalley.