Ember Queen: Ash Princess, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Ember Queen: Ash Princess, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Angsty, slow burn of a finale ultimately satisfies.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers who know their history can compare actions of the Kalovaxians to the Spanish Conquistadors in South America from 16th century on, especially the Spanish in Bolivia who forced the native population into the mines. Instead of gold and silver, the mines in Astrea harness power of elements Earth, Air, Fire, Water. Focus on nature of these classical elements goes back to Ancient Babylon and the Chinese Wu Xing system.

Positive Messages

Desire for freedom from oppression drives story. Cost of that freedom is often weighed: How many is too many to sacrifice for the cause? Also deals with regret in our choices, how the swirling emotions of difficult decisions can make it hard to move forward. Trust and friendship are important, especially when things get dire.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Queen Theodosia (Theo) endures many trials as she fights to regain her kingdom. She is often plagued with doubt about her decisions, guilt about lives lost. Friends she trusts help her push past it. When pressed about how to deal with those that have wronged her, she shows mercy, fairness, kindness, especially to the children of the enemy -- she doesn't just want to end the war, but bring about lasting peace. Includes four LGBTQ characters, all in group close to Theo.


Many deaths, mostly at a distance, with help of fire and other magic. A few deaths up close: a slit throat, a couple of daggers to the gut and heart, poisonings, drownings. One sword is pulled out of a gut, the wound then cauterized. Main character sees bodies, including children, after they are thrown off a balcony. Much talk of torture that characters close to the main character endure -- one had his eye plucked out. A drug that takes away free will causes people to harm themselves and others. Talk of 10 years of abuse, physical and mental torture, slavery. Main character frequently remembers murder of her mother, of others close to her.


Main characters have sex, with little described beyond kissing, undressing, consenting. LGBTQ characters kiss.


Rare strong language includes "ass," "bitch," "bastards."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character, age 17 and a queen, drinks wine at dinner, on a ship, and in a tent with her advisers and friends.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ember Queen is the third and final book in the Ash Princess fantasy series for mature teen readers. Expect many deaths as the main character, 17-year-old Queen Theodosia (Theo), tries to take back her kingdom from those who enslaved and tortured her people for a decade. Most bloodshed is at a distance, with the help of fire and other magic, but there are a few deaths up close, including a slit throat, a couple of daggers to the gut and heart, poisonings, and drownings. There's much talk of torture that characters close to Theo endure -- one man had his eye plucked out. Other mature content includes frequent wine drinking, the rare swear word ("ass," "bitch," "bastards"), and one scene of sex that's not described beyond kissing, undressing, and consenting. The desire for freedom from oppression drives Theo and the whole story. The cost of that freedom is often weighed: How many is too many to sacrifice for the cause? Theo pulls herself out of despair over loss and indecision with the help of her steadfast and brave friends.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPetalknits June 1, 2020

Mixed messages

I had a hard time trying to figure out what age this book was geared toward. If adult, then why have characters that become often petty and childish? If child,... Continue reading

What's the story?

In EMBER QUEEN, Queen Theodosia (Theo) exits the fire mine changed. She has more power to control fire after withstanding weeks of mental trials that have killed many in the mines. She'll need the extra magical strength to face Cress again, the Kaiserin and captor of her people who was made more powerful from a poisoning gone very wrong. As Theo and her advisers devise their next move to free more mines and build their forces, Theo begins to have intensely vivid dreams where Cress speaks to her. Theo is convinced there's a magical connection between them, one forged from the poison in their blood, and one that could be very dangerous if Cress finds out that she is still alive.  

Is it any good?

This finale stays on a low burner for the first half as characters wallow in doubt and indecision, then heats up to a satisfying storm-the-castle, defeat-the-villain finish. To be fair, much needs to be set up before the castle storming can begin, much of it intriguing. Theo's link to Cress in dreams adds a creepy layer and keeps readers in touch with Cress' diabolical plans: She forms the most Goth girl group ever. And while it seems to take forever for Soren, the love interest, to come back into the story, he does in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately, amid these developments, readers will have to sit through meetings in tents where no one agrees where to attack next and long moments of soul searching from Theo about all her failings and bad decisions thus far. These sections could have been cut down significantly or woven more into the action.

Still, the last 100 pages roll along quickly, especially because the stakes are so high. Losing the war is not an option when a whole people will suffer in slavery, and winning with so few troops and some half-baked plans always makes for a compelling underdog tale.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about justice in Ember Queen. What does Theo want to do with the Kalovaxians when the war is over? What do her advisers think?

  • How does Theo see Cress? Is Cress a typical villain? How does their relationship unfold? Why do you think it goes that way?

  • What do you think of how this finale ends? Is it satisfying? Would you read more in a spin-off series? Who do you think it would feature?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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