Cinderella meets Mission Impossible in this spy adventure series full of political intrigue, family secrets, and a determined heroine.
Title: Kingdom of Ash and Soot
Author: C.S. Johnson
Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books
Release Date: July 3, 2018
Page Count: 352
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“I want to be free.” The words came rushing out of me before I could think through their implications and consequences.
“There are two things you need to know about yourself if you want to be free—what you stand for, and what you stand against.” Lady Penelope held up her hands, brandishing a pair of daggers that had been hidden in her skirts. “This world lives enslaved to its destruction, and so long as you are living, as long as you are fighting, you will be free.”
I gazed at the daggers, transfixed. Each blade was clothed in a leather scabbard, but the silver and obsidian of the daggers’ hilts winked at me, as though it was calling for me.
For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.
But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup. As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to mete out the perpetrators. Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.
Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?
With a fun blend of historical fiction, true love, castle intrigue, and family dysfunction, The Order of the Crystal Daggers is the latest adventure series from C. S. Johnson.
Kingdom of Ash and Soot is beautifully written, offering alluring and intense character-driven scenes that make you feel like you are standing next to Eleanora the entire time. The historical parts of the novel are compelling and so intricately woven into the plot. The twists and turns will leave you guessing and when the pieces finally come together, you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve read a ton of books that have traces of Cinderella, but never one that includes action scenes, political intrigue, and the incredible spy component like Mission Impossible. There’s the stepmother and the god-awful stepchildren that torment Eleanora and her brother, Ben. And then there’s the wonderfully stubborn grandmother that comes to their rescue, to take them out of servitude and give their lives more meaning and to give the two siblings what they have always wanted: freedom. But as some know, freedom comes at a cost. Always.
It comes at a cost that Eleanora is willing to pay.
Eleanora is a strong and courageous character and refuses to let anything, and anyone, break her. She controls her own destiny and refuses to let anyone tell her otherwise. Family is important to her, and putting up with her stepfamily is what she does to ensure her and Ben have a future. She’s a lovable main character and one that deserves a happily every after.
Though I loved Eleanora and her bravery and her desire to do what’s right, I loved Ferdy more. Ferdy is such a lovable and fun character and, of course, he sounds so attractive on the page. I was more excited about the scenes with Ferdy than I was for any other scenes (I’m hoping there’s a ton more of Ferdy in book two). He showcases charm and his dazzling intellect, all the while trying to sweep Eleanora off her feet. Ferdy brings a giddiness to the book that I feel would be missing if he didn’t exist. All in all, Eleanora is one lucky girl to have a character like Ferdy vying for her attention. I also very much enjoyed Lady POW in all her stubborn and sassy glory. There were so many enjoyable characters in Kingdom of Ash and Soot that once I finished the first book, it felt like I was leaving family.
When I read the last line of the book, I was like, “That’s it?!” I craved more of Eleanora’s story (and Ferdy, of course), and I cannot wait to read the second book. Eleanora’s journey is no where near its end; her journey has just begun, and I’m determined to watch her finish it.
Kingdom of Ash and Soot comes out Tuesday, July 3 (only a few more days!). But you can pre order the book today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I have my copy on pre order; I loved the story of Eleanora so much that I had to order a paperback copy!
If you love the spy element, romantic intrigue, fierce action scenes, swoon-worthy love interests, and character-driven plots, then I highly recommend Kingdom of Ash and Soot.