Monday, March 19, 2012

Review - Ember by Bettie Sharpe

Everyone loves Prince Charming. They have to—he’s cursed. Every man must respect him. Every woman must desire him. One look, and all is lost.

Ember would rather carve out a piece of her soul than be enslaved by passions not her own. She turns to the dark arts to save her heart and becomes the one woman in the kingdom able to resist the Prince’s Charm.

Poor girl. If Ember had spent less time studying magic and more time studying human nature, she might have guessed that a man who gets everything and everyone he wants will come to want the one woman he cannot have.

Ember by Bettie Sharpe is a retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. It is not, however, a book for anyone under the age of 18. It's got lots of foul language, violence, and sex.

Ember's mother, a wise woman, dies. Leaving Ember, now a witch, and her Father sad and trying to make ends meet. After one of his business trips he brings home a woman to be his wife, along with her two "daughters" to be friends with Ember. However, they are not really related. And they're not the noble women her father thinks them to be. They're courtesans running from the law.

That doesn't much bother Ember though. They get along well and they take care of each other. Ember gladly bestows her finer clothing on her new family members and goes back to wearing her comfortable woolen dresses (the neighbors think that the new step-family is being unreasonable to Ember and forcing her to dress poorly).

Prince Charming has a name in this re-telling. Adrian Juste. And he's been cursed. Although some find it hard to view it as such, that's exactly what it is. Everyone loves him. And not because they want to, but because they have to. They take one look at him and their minds are overwhelmed by the power of his affliction. They have no choice but to fall head over heals all over themselves. Except for Ember. She refuses to look at him. After one mistake early on in life she will not make another. And he desires her all the more because of that.

But she will not let him have her.

Unfortunately, Ember's father dies and after paying off debts they're left with little more than the home they live in. So her "sisters" resume their prior business as courtesans and Ember becomes their bookkeeper. This business decision, however, brings her dangerously close to the one person she doesn't want to be around. The prince.


This was an interesting re-telling of Cinderella. I liked how the step-sisters and the step-mother weren't haughty and unkind. That it was just the way the neighbors perceived things that made it seem so. Adrian Juste wasn't the dashing, debonair, and chivalrous Prince this time. He was demanding, rude, and spoiled (sometimes he was evil, in my opinion, forcing people to let him have his way with them when he knew good and well that they didn't want it). And Ember... Ember wasn't the golden haired, fair voiced beauty who made friends with mice and had a fairy godmother. She was a fiery red-head with a face plastered in freckles, a twisted foot, and a finger missing. She was intimidating to most men, and she knew it.
The characters were relateable, and believable (even though some of them were less than savory in their business endeavors). They were loyal to each other and truly had good hearts. And the prince... he had some secrets of his own.

Those secrets, unfortunately, were quite easy to predict. I personally knew what was going on long before the end of the book and then spent the rest of the book wondering when everyone else was going to figure it out too. The sex scenes, while not supposed to be loving and poetic, were repetitive and crass. I realize a lot of the other parts of the book were not exactly tasteful, and that was fine, but a pet peeve of mine is repeating the same thing over and over and.... you get the point. Regardless of whether it's crass and vulgar or sweet and syrupy.

Over all, I liked the book. It was a short read and kept me engaged for the majority of the time. I did skip over a few bits that just seemed to draw on longer than my attention span wanted to let them, but it was an interesting read. A good contrast to the original fairytale.

Again, I would not recommend this to anyone under the age of 18. But fans of fairytales in general, and fairytale retellings might find this a good one to read.

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