Title: Out of the Ashes
Author: Olivia Duncan Craig
Cover artist: Derek Murphy
Amazon Buy Link:Out of the Ashes
Genre: contemporary romance
Length: 148 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Charming modern take on Cinderella.
Young Noah hadn’t any idea how quickly his world could turn upside down. One minute, he was living, happy and secure, with a doting father and grandmother to look after him. The next, his father is dead, his grandmother is confined to her sickbed, and the only other family he has left is his new stepmother and her two children.
Taken far from his home, worked hard and hidden away from the world, Noah hasn’t much to look forward to, growing up. Until one day, Matthew, a handsome neighbor, comes riding up to him like a knight on his charger.
It’s love at first sight, at least as far as Noah is concerned.
Now all Noah has to do is make his Prince Charming aware he exists, triumph over his evil stepmother, and claim the love he so richly deserves. He may not have a fairy godmother helping him, but magic can come in many forms. The only question is–will it be enough to give Noah his happily ever after?
I really enjoyed Redemption by this author, so of course I was eager to read her new work. When I heard that it was a Cinderella remake, I was even more curious. I have read so many books which paid homage to fairy tales and several Cinderella inspired, but I was curious as to how closely this book would stay in the Cinderella framework - would it be just an inspiration, or pretty close translation. So if you are looking for a work loosely inspired by Cinderella, turn away now. In my opinion it followed the fairy tale framework relatively closely but the author took care to make the story believable in modern times, I was not disappointed by that though – the writing was so good that the tried and true story was fresh and exciting for me even though I knew what would happen. I just thought that it flowed so well. I was amused reading how the author while following the Cinderella‘s key points managed to get rid of some things that annoyed me in the original tale.
For example, I do not know about you, but every time I have reread the story or read the remake, or watched the movie inspired by Cinderella, I wanted to slap dear dad into oblivion. Because no, I do not think that if you love your child that much, you will stand by and allow your child to be abused by the monster you married. So I was very grateful to the writer that father dies soon after the marriage just in the beginning of the story, and it made me sorry for him, rather than incredibly annoyed :)
There are couple other things which I considered to be a nice polish of the original story and which I do not want to reveal for the fear of spoilers.
I loved Noah and Mathew. This is one of the few instances where Insta!Love worked for me, because I always remembered that I am reading a fairy tale. - Although the writer tried to make it a bit different here as well – it worked for me, but it is not a slow development of the romance either, it is still pretty instant. Again, I know I sound like a parrot, but please remember what story you are reading – if you love the original, I can be pretty confident in saying that you will enjoy the little twist she added. If you did not love the original, definitely stay away IMO.
I also thought that switching the narrative between Noah and Mathew’s third person limited POV worked really well. We get to know both guys well and while Matthew did seem pretty perfect to me, somehow that did not annoy me either. Somehow for me he was just a good guy if that makes sense, not a walking perfection. Noah also came alive for me on the pages. I thought the writer portrayed his despair, which later changed to bitter stoicism pretty well and still showed how much he was capable of love.
I thought it was a quick and easy read, although beware that Noah’s abuse gets very severe at times. While it is not graphic, there are two horrible accidents which are, but that’s about it. - It is just what was done to him throughout the years overall is horrifying.
I really enjoyed how “magic” makes appearance in the story. It was lovely, really, while of course nothing truly magical in the fantastical sense happens in the contemporary tale, something happens that helps Noah very much in the crucial moment of the story and it should not have been able to happen, therefore it felt truly magical for me.