Novella Mini-Review: Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty Universe)

Title: Gilded Ashes
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Completed: April 7, 2014
Source: Purchased via GooglePlay
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Related Posts: 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?” — From Goodreads


  • It was an interesting and really creative take on Cinderella! I liked how it tied into the Cruel Beauty world. It definitely felt like it really fit with CRUEL BEAUTY and how things overlapped.
  • I was never quite sure exactly how the story would wrap up! It really kept me guessing.
  • I loved Anax. And you know what, I really liked Maia too. I enjoyed their time together as well as how it all ended up happening.
  • Ignifex! So interesting to see him again. Loved how it came back into play.


  • The ending…? It was kind of a toss-up for me. I liked it but at the same time, I don’t know if I did. Everything tied up but it wasn’t the ending I expected.
  • Guys……. I just don’t think I’m a fan of the Cruel Beauty world. This novella definitely had the same feel to it but that helped me realize that it wasn’t necessarily the characters that I didn’t connect with. I think it might have been the world. I guess that will really make me reconsider whether I want to read the rest of this series when it comes out.

Have you read Gilded Ashes? How did you feel about the Cinderella retelling take on the story? Did you feel like it fit in well with the Cruel Beauty universe?

Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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3 thoughts on “Novella Mini-Review: Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty Universe)

  1. elena

    Oh hm, I didn’t connect with Cruel Beauty liked I wanted either but whaaat I didn’t know it was a series! I guess that shows how much I remember the ending?

  2. Kaniesha @ Deux Lectrices

    I reeeeeally liked Gilded Ashes. I decided I LOVE Hodge’s writing style after reading it. The ending was a “meh” for me too. It was REALLY sad but then Maia and Anax were just kind of “At least we love each other” which is kind of crazy. But I think Maia might actually be crazy so.. I can’t complain too much.

    It fit really well in the Cruel Beauty world. It’s a different take on things, a lot different than Nyx’s POV because for her the world could literally end at any moment, whereas here we get to see people living sort of normal day to day lives (I’m talking about Anax, not Maia) but get to see those who are heavily affected by Ignifex (now I’m talking about Maia) but still living day to day. If that makes any sense. I just reeeally enjoy reading Hodge’s work.


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