Under The Trees by Ashley Maker - A Review

The strongest point of this book is its simplicity. It was so easy to read, and I loved how the plot kept to the main premise and conflict while incorporating interesting twists at the same time. The romance itself was simple and fast, but it didn’t feel forced and made sense within the context of the narrative. After all, it is the young love between a prince and a princess we are talking about; exchanging glances is more than enough to spark something. But its pureness and lack of complexity doesn’t devalue the narrative by any means. It only accentuates the beauty of what lies deep within the heart of those who fall in love for the first time. If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to fall in love without rhyme or reason, this book, and its beautiful descriptions, will remind you.

Despite the fairy tale tone, there is a realistic vibe added to it. Behind the Fantasy veil, it is easy to draw moral messages from the story, and some of the themes and concepts are very real, too. Araya is a princess who is running from an abusive relationship and from a life she doesn’t want. Although she is a princess, she could be any one of us.

The only issue I had was how the action started slightly too late, way past the halfway mark. This unfortunately made the pace feel too slow at points. But of course, I should’ve trusted Maker’s direction. While I might have felt that nothing was happening, character development was happening in the  background. And the wait was worth it!

Once you enter the main conflict, there’s plenty of action and adventure.

You will easily get attached to the two main characters Araya and Thor. They are faithful to their beliefs, possess the strength to overcome challenges, and are driven by faith and hope. Despite this story being a fairy tale, the characters are incredibly realistic. Araya’s will to fight and to survive, as well as her hope for a better future, is inspiring. She might be a ‘damsel in distress’, but she doesn’t act like one. She doesn’t expect to be rescued. Unlike many heroines nowadays, Araya feels real, with a strong mind but aware of her physical limitations. Thor, on the other hand, incorporates the characteristics of both a dreamy prince and of an inspiring leader who cares about others.
The supporting characters are full of surprises, and it is interesting how your own perception about them changes as you are fed with more information as the story progresses.

This was the main reason that made me read this book in the first place. I was automatically drawn to Maker’s engaging. writing style. As I kept reading, I found that she masterfully uses POV, making you feel as if you are inside the character’s head with ease. Her detailed descriptions of emotions, if not flawless, are very strong. It’s the type of writing that flows beautifully, without being overwhelming, while fitting the tone, the mood, and being surprisingly easy to read.
The only thing that I’d change would be the excessive use of the passive voice, which often slowed some tension-filled scenes down to a halt.

This hasn’t affected my review in any way, but somehow, I felt that this was the story of my life had it been a fairy tale, had I been a princess. I don’t want to go into much detail, because this is the type of thing that attracts too much negative attention on social media, but I was in a difficult situation, like Princess Araya, and even though I consider myself to be strong and independent, I struggled to overcome it. I let my fear get the best of me. For so long, I refused any kind of help. I eventually managed to find a way out, but it took me so long to let someone else into my life. In the end, I found my prince, but I thought, just like Araya, that I was not ready for love. But I learned that accepting someone else’s help doesn’t make you any less strong or independent than you really are.

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