Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty Universe) by Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date:   April 1st 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult,  Retelling
Goodreads: 4.06
Rating: ★★★★


Hodge returns with another retelling set in the cruel beauty universe where the Gentle Lord rules – this time around its Cinderella we visit.

Maia lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters resides in the crumbling remain of her home that once used to be her beautiful home, back when her mother was alive.

Now with her father dead and the debts left behind in its wake, the place is falling apart – literally. Not to mention it is haunted – by the dead spirit of Maia’ own mother and the demons that serve her as per the bargain she made with the Gentle Lord – that she be always with her daughter and never ever let her shed a tear or so much as see upset.

The catch as always in every deal that comes as the terrible price is that Maia can never ever, EVER show her true emotions, else her mother and the demons will wreck havoc on the person responsible – literally. So, in order to not let anyone suffer the terrible fate, Maia has to not only fake being happy always – she is never even allowed so much as to say one word, for even the truth will come with the consequences.

Trapped in her own home, Maia wishes her stepsisters to be married and take away their mother as well, so that she can finally at last live freely – without the ever constant fear of an impending doom looming upon their heads.

Fate however has other plans in store for her, when her paths cross with the richest man on the island of Arcadia – the Duke of Sardis – Lord Anax. With Anax, not only does Maia discover love and a life outside the confining limitations of her home, but also the gift of speaking her mind. Soon the pair is in love and Maia finds herself wishing the one thing she never thought she could possibly want – love, companionship and a life beyond the boundaries of her haunted home. The trouble is she cant reveal the truth about her dead mother or her demons to anyone, nor let her stepmother and stepsister suffer the wrath of her mother should she abandon them to pursue what her heart desires most.

Hodge is as amazing as the last time around and this is possibly one of the best retelling I have come across, I cannot wait to pick up the next book set in the cruel beauty universe.


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