Benjamin Grimm knows the theater is much like real life. In 1876 Philadelphia, people play their parts, hiding behind the illusion of their lives, and never revealing their secrets.
When he reunites with his childhood friend Eleanor Banneker, he is delighted. His delight turns to dismay when he discovers she has been under a spell for the past 7 years, being forced to live as a servant in her own home, and he realizes how sinister some secrets can be. She asks for his help, and he can’t refuse. Even if he doesn’t believe in ‘real’ magic, he can’t abandon her.
Ellie has spent the long years since her mother’s death under the watchful eye and unforgiving eye of her stepmother. Bewitched and hidden in plain sight, it seems no one can help Ellie escape. Not even her own father, who is under a spell of his own. When she sees Ben one evening, it seems he is immune to the magic that binds her, and her hope is rekindled along with her friendship.
But time is running short. If they do not find a way to break the spell before midnight on New Year’s Eve, then both Ellie and her father will be bound forever.
I received this book from the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for the book’s blog tour and an honest review.
A Curse of Ash and Iron is a steampunk retelling of Cinderella. There is action, romance, magic, and gears. A pretty good combination. Add that it’s a fairy tale retelling and I couldn’t resist.
The book starts off with a prologue that becomes important to set the tone of the friendship between Ellie and Ben. Ellie is the daughter of a well to do man. In the beginning of the book, her mother has died and her father has married her governess rather quickly. Ben is the son of a cook and bookshop owner. In this prologue, the two friends are separated never to possibly see each other again.
The next chapter starts off with the book revealing the relationship between Ellie and her stepmother. Not on good terms. As for Ben, he wants to help Ellie by any means necessary. Even if she sounds insane.
Ellie is a strong willed young woman in search of herself. I like how Chrstine Norris gives the emotions of a young adult finding themselves through a magical reason. Ellie is literally trying to find herself again and it’s through the love of Ben and other people that she finds a way to at least start having an identity. Despite the slavery that her stepmother has put her through, Ellie still shows some spunk to fight back. She doesn’t throw punches, but she throws verbage. Ellie is a character who doesn’t let her situation darken her.
I liked Ben. He was logical, passionate about his dreams, and would walk the ends of the earth to help the girl he knew as a child. He had a bumbly kind of way to him in the beginning, but that awkwardness didn’t stop his intelligence or assurance of logic over magic. Naturally, he’s wrong about some things. Some things can’t be explained through steam and gears.
The Cinderella story is more of a diagram for this story. Yes, there’s the typical pieces you see in Cinderella in this book, but the reasons behind Ellie’s lack of identity and her friendship with Ben is more of its own. There’s adventure and action as well, definitely not what you see in the traditional Cinderella.
I’m a big fan of fairy tale retellings. There’s something about the iconic stories that bring about the childhood. Christine Norris not only brought that child feel, but made it grown up that would intrigue all aged audiences.
About The Author:
Christine Norris is the author of several speculative fiction works for children and adults. She is extremely overeducated, having a B.S. Temple University (Kinesiology), a B.A. from UMUC (English), AND a Masters in Library and Information Science from Southern Connecticut State. All of which means she loves to be in the library, which is her secret day job (whoops…).
She is married with one son, two rescued cats, a rescued Jack Russell, and a rescued palomino rabbit. There’s a lot of rescuing. She also has a complete weakness for Doctor Who, Sherlock, and other British television shows, as well as an addiction to movies, re-told fairy tales, and police procedural shows. She believes in fairies and lives in New Jersey.