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Must-Read Retelling | Novella Review: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

Gilded Ashes is a must read novella!

Novella Review: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

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gilded ashes rosamund hodge

Title & Author: Gilded Ashes: A Cruel Beauty Novella (Cruel Beauty Universe) by Rosamund Hodge

Genre: Young Adult – Novella, Fantasy

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Series: Cruel Beauty Universe #2

Publisher: Epic Reads Impulse

How I Got the Book: Bought


“A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale, Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty.

Orphan Maia doesn’t see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia’s father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother’s approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they’ll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn’t believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What’s the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she’ll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn’t believe in love. Anax can’t help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can’t help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother’s deadly bargain?”

The Gentle Lord Returns

Rosamund Hodge is definitely an author on my auto-buy list, so I’m not quite sure why I haven’t read Gilded Ashes yet! It’s a novella that’s part of the Cruel Beauty universe and after some reminding from my friend Steph, I finally devoured it.

Actually, I take back what I said. One clear reason I was hesitant to read this novella was because it’s a Cinderella retelling. With books like Cinder and so many others, I felt like I’ve read every possible retelling of this story.

But, Hodge has completely proven me wrong. Gilded Ashes is unlike any Cinderella retelling or adaption I’ve ever read. She has this way of infusing a slight edge to all her stories without making them too dark. It’s pure magic.

Maia is our Cinderella nouveau, and she is my favorite type of heroine. Strong without seeming perfect and vulnerable in relatable ways. I felt her struggle and rooted for her hardcore.

Plus The Gentle Lord returns to make things complicated in the best way possible. I’m so in love with the Cruel Beauty universe!

My favorite part of this book is – of course – the romance. Cinderella is a story very deeply rooted in a romantic center, BUT there was no instalove here, which is interesting because in the Disney or early non-Grimm versions love at first sight is kind of the whole point.

Not in Gilded Ashes. It’s simply swoony.

I understand why this was a novella, but I don’t care and just wish Gilded Ashes had been a whole novel. GIMME MORE, HODGE.

I love how this story turned the classic story on its head, explaining things in a way that you wouldn’t expect and mingling darkness and light beautifully.


Whether you’re a fan of Hodge yet or not, definitely check out this novella. Gilded Ashes is everything you want in a fantasy book, and it’s a wonderful retelling to boot – highly recommended.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Jessica DiFelice

    I totally agree! I devoured this novella, and I fell in love with Rosamund Hodge’s style and the atmosphere she creates in her writing. My new favourite author I found this year 🙂