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Ember by Bettie Sharpe
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An attempt at a twist on the classic Cinderella story—the central character here is no meek and passive blonde beauty, but a plain red-headed witch with no qualms about exacting vengeance on people. There were some elements about Ember that I liked, such as the fact that here Ember is close to her stepfamily (here reimagined as a trio of prostitutes who initially con their way into Ember's household but are soon steadfastly loyal to her) and the fact that Prince Charming is literally cursed with being charming. There are the kernels of interesting ideas here.

However, as a whole this fell fairly flat. Nine times out of ten, the more insistent the narrative voice is that what you're reading is dark and edgy and erotic, the less true that is. It's the same here: there's little nuance, no actual character development, and that means that all the sex scenes just come across as insert-tab-A-into-slot-B. Moreover, thanks to various plot reasons, the one reasonably detailed sex scene between the two main characters is, in fact, non-consensual, and the author seems not to have given any thought at all to the fact that the mechanics of the prince's curse, combined with his behaviour, automatically make him a serial rapist. Not recommended. ( )
  siriaeve | Jun 24, 2017 |
4.5/5
This book was a riot! :) Don't be put off by the warning - there is no violence and less sex than in an average paranormal romance.

Stella from Ex-Libris mentioned this book in her fairy tale week, and I downloaded it. It was amazing, twisted, charming and amusing. I definitely will be reading more of Bettie Sharpe's Dark Fairy Tales.

First of all, Prince Charming aka Adrian Juste (if I remember correctly) is cursed. We don't know how he really looks, but to each of us he looks like an ideal man who is impossible not to love. His curse lets him get everything he wants, he takes his virgins and stops wars and whatever he does people are charmed. Only on the nights of full moon he hides in his quarters as everyone knows that the light of a full moon reveals any truth behind witchcraft.

Ember is a blood witch who sacrificed her little finger to the fire to be free of the pull of Prince's curse. She is not a kind witch, but she is just and vengeful. Cross her, and she will make your life hell. She is beautiful but on the wild side - red hair, almost black eyes, intense...

When her mother, also a witch, dies, her dad decides to take a new wife and brings a whore (literally) with two "daughters" from the neighbouring kingdom. If you didn't realise yet that you can't expect anything predictable from this story here is your first shocker ;)
Ember likes the girls, she asks them to treat her father kindly and she will get out of her way to make them comfortable. They live in peace together.

When her dad dies and they discover that he left them no money, the girls and her stepmother decide to open a brothel to pay Ember for her kindness and provide for her(!). So here they are whoring and she is looking after the books and scaring bad clients when one day Prince decides to visit the brothel...

Loved the book, great writing, expect the unexpected and remember:
This is no fairy tale. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
Surprising! ( )
  zannerina | Oct 21, 2013 |
Ember is a fantastic re-imagining of the Cinderella story. It is one of the best books I've read this year, and amazingly enough I read it for Free (online). Though, I would have gladly paid for an enthralling, imaginative and beautifully written story like Ember.

I love Ember's sassy voice, and the narrative style that Bettie Sharpe chose for this unconventional retelling of a classica fairy tale that we all (think we) know. Ember feels like a very relatable modern heroine without feeling out of place in her fantasy world. She isn't perfect, and in fact, it's her flaws that I found the most fascinating. Her stubborn, almost off-handed rejection of all that is regarded as beautiful and desirable (including the Prince) is both commendable, but also somewhat self serving it how it keeps other people at a comfortable distance. I enjoyed watching her navigate through her life, and the complicated issue of avoid the prince.

Speaking of the prince, I found it so refreshing to have an interesting, complex male lead. True, he in more of an antagonist in this story, but even is his smaller role he far and wide of of the most well developed, and three dimension male leads I've seen in a romance in a long time. The romance itself was refreshing as well, seeing the greater transformation and growth happening in the female leads was refreshing, as well as relatable.

There is so much to praise about this wonderful story, from the strong female characters (The Stepmother & Sisters are some of my favorite characters in the story) and the unique, yet familiar take on magic. This fantasy, fairy tale world felt familiar without being cliche and it even surprised me several times. There are a great deal of fun references to other familiar fairy tales, each with their own interesting twist, and an irritable sense of humor threaded through the entire story.

I would recommend this for any fans of fantasy or fairy tales, and even urban fantasies. They will all find something amusing, entertaining and spellbinding in Ember. ( )
  EinfachMich | Sep 21, 2013 |
Blerg. This little novella hit all the right spots. Like, if I were some sort of badass, sharp-toothed trained guard dog and EMBER were a burglar, I'd be lying around chomping on drugged steak and dreaming of fire hydrants while EMBER cracked the safe and ran away with the family jewels. If we were characters in Bye, Bye Birdie I'd be sitting by the phone, singing about how happy I am to wait for Conrad's call, and EMBER would be Conrad, swaggering around with some other girl.

I feel like I didn't have a choice about liking EMBER. Like it wasn't a matter of personal taste or discernment, but, rather, I'd been programmed and the second I opened the first page, the script kicked in and boom, now I'm just a minion to the book. Hopelessly in thrall.

That probably sounds sarcastic to you, but really it's not.

So. Ember is a novella, a sort of Frankenstein's monster version of Cinderella. All the elements of the fairy tale that you know are here, but rearranged and often perverted. It starts with the Prince - a man cursed from birth with overwhelming charm. He enthralls everyone he meets. He gets whatever he wants just by asking. He stops wars when he appears on the field of battle.

And he's sick unto death of adoration.

Our heroine, Ember, is a witch. After one taste of the Prince's overwhelming charm, of how humiliatingly susceptible she was to its power, she's willing to do anything - including dark magic - to make herself immune.

But, of course, the Prince is obsessed with the one woman able to resist him.

That's the premise, and if it sounds awesome to you, you should read this novella. Simple as that. You will love it.

If you are not yet convinced, how about I sweeten the deal and hint at some of the wonderful, Disney-on-the-dark-side treats to be found within: the wicked stepmother and her wicked stepdaughters appear here as devious prostitutes; Ember herself is a dark-eyed redhead with a foul temper who works blood magic, but the doe-eyed blonde who sleeps by the kitchen fire does make an appearance; so does the infamous one-size-fits-one slipper, and for the first time ever the weird gimmick of using a shoe to identify a mysterious individual makes total sense.

It's so good it's...stealing my will and using my fingers to type this review. Seriously, if it sounds like your thing, it is your thing. You will be just as helpless as I appear to be. And it's $0.99! How can you resist?

No...really. How can you resist?
( )
  MlleEhreen | Apr 3, 2013 |
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