Eleanora and her brother Benedict are the children of wealthy parents in Prague. When both parents pass away, their lives become that of servants under their step mother’s gruesome rule. But when their stately grandmother arrives at the estate, their lives are changed completely.
No longer acting as servants, Eleanora and Ben are recruited into the Order of the Crystal Daggers. This order, of which their grandmother and late mother have been part of, seeks to keep order in the kingdoms and protection for the rulers. It’s dangerous and complex work, especially with a series of murders and political unrest in Prague.
Eleanora plays a special role for this mission in Prague. She enters the role of society lady with charm and beauty. But Eleanora struggles with keeping her head as her heart is in conflict over two of her suitors.
Can Eleanora find the people responsible for the murders and be able to save lives that are in danger?
Kingdom of Ash and Soot starts off feeling like a retelling. But this is in no way a fairy tale. It takes elements from Cinderella, Rapunzel, Mulan, and many other stories we all love so much and weaves it into something new.
C. S. Johnson has a great writing style and her experience as a novelist really shines through. The character development is wonderful and I can really connect to them as I’m reading.
My only issue with this book is that I found the middle section to be really slow. The beginning dragged a bit due to introduction and world building, which is all necessary. But when the grandmother showed up (Lady POW, what a great name for a nearly likeable character!), the story became really slow for me. I was almost bored with it. Usually balls in stories are quite interesting, but several of the first balls in this story were quite boring and nothing much happened between them.
The ending really picked up and I found myself flying through the last 70 pages. C. S. Johnson left me hanging onto her words, and desperate to read the next book in this series.
Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C. S. Johnson receives 3.5 stars.