The Ashen Queen

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
279 Pages
Reviewed on 08/24/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Sidney Gray is a small town girl with a love of animals, donuts and reading. Obsessed with anything fantasy, magic, adventure and, of course, a little bit of romance. After years of daydreaming she finally put pen to paper and started writing down the stories in her head. The Ashen Queen is her debut novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

Born on the last day of a sweltering summer, just like all the Queens before her, Sofia Addington knows she is born to be Queen of Arandale. The only thing is that she’s never vied for such a life and she hates to become Queen one day and doesn’t want to imagine her life in court among the other nobles. But destiny has its way in a world where everyone is born with magic. Sofia tries to put up a front just to satisfy the people she loves, but things change dramatically when an old friend turns up in town. But when an encroaching darkness threatens her land, she knows it’s her duty to stop it. But does she have what it takes to stop such evil?

This is an epic fantasy with great potential for entertainment and there is quite a lot that I enjoyed in Sidney Gray’s writing. The protagonist is introduced at the very start of the narrative and a strong premise is defined for the plot. We encounter a compelling character, torn between doing what she wants and accepting a call to serve her people. The character arc is well done and it is easy to see how the protagonist develops as the conflict intensifies, unveiling different layers of her competence and her strength. The Ashen Queen features a beautiful plot and prose that is crisp and enjoyable. The world building is impeccable and the setting is an exciting, imaginary world that readers will find interesting to navigate. The Ashen Queen is an enjoyable read, indeed; one of those stories that grab your attention and transport you to another realm.

K.J. Simmill

Sofia's family had not been noble, but because she was born on a specific day she was to be their future queen, and their status had risen. Sofia, born to be queen, didn't feel she was ready for the role; in fact, she didn't want it. All she had wanted was a normal life, to embrace the spirit of adventure and exploration that had always flowed through her veins. But the closer she came to her 18th birthday the more her freedom was restricted. Betrothed to Alex, her estranged childhood friend, and trapped in studies, she longs for the life she would have chosen. Fate works in mysterious ways and an old friend returns, taking her into a place she had always feared in order to escape a worse danger, and warning her something was coming, something it falls to her to stop.

The Ashen Queen by Sidney Gray is a gripping fantasy exploring many themes ranging from magic, misunderstandings, fate, and friendship. Sofia, the story's protagonist, is a well developed character with very real emotions, personality, and appropriate reactions and concerns. The characters are vivid and realistic, in fact, there were times I wanted to reach into the pages and slap her mother. She and some of the other characters are so well written and explored that you will find yourself feeling genuine emotion towards them. This is a slow paced story which focuses on characters and world building before introducing the reader to the main focus of the story, the truth about the banishing and the Ashen, and the coming darkness. It is certainly a good foundation for what looks to be an interesting series.

K.C. Finn

The Ashen Queen is work of fantasy fiction written for young adults by author Sidney Gray. Set in a pseudo-medieval fantasy world, we focus on Sofia Addington as our central character. Approaching her eighteenth birthday, Sofia is a princess who is in no rush to get married and ascend to the role of Queen of Arandale, a country in the land of Latheria. Unfortunately, she sees no other option in her future, and her quest for normality puts incredible pressure on her that she resents and suffers from. It’s only when her past comes back to haunt her that Sofia is launched into an epic adventure in the wider world, where magic and real life collide to open her up to new possibilities.

Sidney Gray writes delightfully in the head of Sofia, and I think she’s a really suitable protagonist for the young adult genre. Though the world she inhabits is much like any other medieval fantasy world in contemporary fiction, Gray brings it to life with vivid descriptions and an exciting magic system that will have readers wanting to be able to step straight into the five countries of Latheria. Sofia is well characterized, keeping some traditional medieval stances whilst being very modern and relatable in others, and her story is one full of adventures with interesting plot twists, turns and a truly unpredictable ending. Overall, The Ashen Queen re-translates teenage life into a lively and intriguing historical setting, with hi-jinks and magic that lift the tale to fantastic heights.