under the trees ashley maker

Review of ‘Under the Trees’ – Ashley Maker

In Reviews by Nya9 Comments

Sometimes all you want to do is read a fairy tale, and believe in the good of the world – that good people can win, and that princesses live happily ever after. But make no mistake, Under the Trees is more than that, it carries an empowering message. It tells us to stop dreaming, and start fighting – and at the same time, it tells us it is okay to accept help. It tells us about young, innocent and instant (why make it complicated when it can be simple and pure?) love. You don’t need a knight in a shining armor, and you don’t need a man to give meaning to your life. But if love comes, it is okay to embrace it.

Most importantly, it tells you there is a light at the end of the tunnel, an escape, a way out. Always. You are in charge of your life and decisions – even if you are a princess with a doomed future.

under the trees ashley makerUnder The Trees

Ashley Maker
Publication date: March 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult


Desperate to prevent an abusive arranged marriage, Princess Araya flees to a neighboring kingdom, only to land at the mercy of the impulsive Crown Prince Thoredmund, who provides refuge in a secluded forest and teaches her survival skills. Her surprise at the unexpected hold the prince has on her heart mirrors his shock at falling for the one girl he can’t have.

As the young couple’s feelings for each other grow, the fragile alliance between the two kingdoms threatens to break apart. With a vengeful duke and an enraged king fast on their trail, Thor and Araya must decide how much they’re willing to risk for love.

Even if staying together means starting a war.

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Before you start reading the review: Enjoy the music that inspired the book.

The Plot

The strongest point of this book is its simplicity; it’s so easy to read and get into the story. I loved how the plot was kept to the main premise and main conflict, while it incorporated interesting twists at the same time. The romance itself is simple and fast, but it didn’t feel forced and made sense within the context of the narrative. It is the young love between a princess and a prince we are talking about after all – so yes, exchanging glances is enough to spark something. The pureness and simplicity of it all doesn’t make the narrative any shallow, it only accentuates the beauty of what lies deep within the heart of those who fall in love for the first time. If you forgot what it is to fall in love without a reason, and to want to help without receiving anything in exchange, then 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’s easy to draw moral messages from the story, and a few concepts are unfortunately very real as well. Araya is a princess who is running from an abusive relationship and from a life she doesn’t want – she is a princess in this story, but in fact, she could be any of us.

I think the only issue I have spotted was how I felt that the core of action started a bit too late, and past the middle of the book. This made the pace feel a bit too slow for me at some points. But of course, I should had trusted Ashley’s direction. While I might have felt that nothing was happening, in fact character development was happening in the background. And the wait is worth it! Once you enter into the main conflict, there’s plenty of action and adventure.

The Characters

You will get easily attached to the two main characters: Araya and Thor. They are faithful to their beliefs, possessing a beautiful strength to overcome challenges driven by faith and hope. Despite this story being a fairy tale of some sorts, the characters are incredibly realistic.

Araya’s will to fight and to survive, her hope in a  better future, is inspiring. She might be a ‘damsel in distress’ but she doesn’t act as one, plus 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 incorporates both characteristics of a dreamy prince (and we all want to read about princes and princesses, and flawless romances from time to time) and of an inspiring leader who cares about others most of all.

The supporting characters are full of surprises, and it’s interesting how your own perception about then changes as you are fed with more information and events that involve them.

The Writing Style

This was in fact the main reason that made me pick this book at first. I was automatically drawn to Ashley Maker’s engaging writing style. As I kept reading, I found out that she is a master of deep PoV, making you feel as if you are inside the character’s head very easily. Her detailed descriptions of emotions, even if not flawless, are very strong.

It’s a type of writing that flows beautifully, without being overwhelming. It fits the tone, the mood, and it’s surprisingly easy to read.

Only thing that I’d probably change would be the use of the passive voice; it could do with a little less. It dramatically slowed the pace down at some points of high tension.

Personal note

This hasn’t affected my review in any way, but somehow, I felt 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 attention (the bad kind) in Social Media; however, let’s say I was in a difficult situation, such as princess Araya, and even though I have always considered myself to be strong and independent, I’ve struggled to get out of it. I’ve let my fear get the best of me. For so long, I have refused any kind of help. I eventually managed to find a way out, but it took me a bit longer to let someone else into my life. Yes, I did find my own prince in the end, but I thought (just like Araya) that I was not ready for love. It’s amazing how accepting someone else’s help doesn’t make you any less strong, or independent – I did learn that in the end. Another funny thing is that a few months ago, I’ve asked my boyfriend (aka my prince) to tell me a story before bed (such a weird request, uh?), and he asked me “Which kind of story?” and I said “A fairy tale. Make up something.” And he did. And guess what? It was about a princess and prince too. And the prince saved the princess (even though she did not help – or so she claimed).

And I will end this post repeating myself : Sometimes all you want is to read a fairy tale.

And believe in the good of the world.


  1. veethee dixit

    love stories always tend to thrill me. Nice review by the way. I can’t wait to read this book. thnx for the informative post! 🙂

  2. Fenrile

    I’ll never say this enough, but I love your writing style, as you know already. Your reviews are one of the post I enjoy the most. To know your feelings, your opinions about a book and of course to read every words you wrote. And this one is so special. I feel so privileged to be mentioned in the personal note. I will be forever thankful and grateful to everything you’ve done for me and specially for opening up and letting me in. It was very difficult for me to come up with a story. I even wrote bits of it at work, kept thinking about it. I apologize for my lack of talent in telling a story with the right tone. But yeah, as I was already addicted to you, I wanted to write a story about us. That’s what came up and it’s funny how this one may be similar in a few things. So I’ll probably read it thanks to you my Princess <3
    Fenrile recently posted…DC TV-U Summer Break 2016 – Introduction to DC TV UniverseMy Profile

  3. Ashley Maker

    I try not to comment on reviews, good or bad, but sometimes I can’t help myself when I read one like this. Nya, your review is so lovely, and it means so much to me. Thank you for taking time to not only read my book, but also to share your thoughts and views about the story. I’m so happy you understand the book and the kind of message that was/is essential to the characters and plot. Your personal note at the end really touched me. Thank you for sharing that story. <3

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for your kind words Ashley. It was my pleasure, thank you so much for giving me the chance to review your lovely book. All the best for you.

  4. Carola Knubben

    I really like the message of the book! I really enjoy to read books that have a deaper meaning. That learn me something and make me think about life. "You are in charge of your life and decisions" -> that's a very important message. And I love that this books carries that out. The plot sounds very interesting. But it's mostly your comments about what the book wants to tell that makes me interested. Has Ashley Maker written more books or is this the first? I could only find this one when I tried to look it up.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. As far as I know, this is Ashley’s first book but I have heard some rumors about a sequel. Fingers crossed 🙂

  5. Aika Loraine

    I myself love love stories and fairy tales, and happy endings. Anyway, thank you for saying that this book is easy to read. I dont know but there are some books that are too heavily written and hard to understand. Young love, prince and princess. Oh, how can i resist this book. ❤️

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