Author: Malinda Lo
Pages [paperback]: 291
Favorite Characters: Ash & Kaisa
In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
Ash is a retelling of the old tale, Cinderella. It definitely takes an entirely different approach at it, forgoing the Prince Charming pathway, and focusing on alluring fairies, brave hunters, and enchanted forests. While this new take worked for me in some ways, it detracted from the story elsewhere.
While Ash was a well-defined character, some things she did seemed out of the blue. Some actions were never explained, for her as well as other characters. I never really understood Sidhean, no matter how hard I tried. His motives, his actions, all confused me, and I never got a good feel of who he was or what he wanted. He just seemed to be . . . there.
I loved the setting, and the atmosphere made this feel like a forgotten classic tale brought to life. It was easy to read, and didn’t drag at any one part, but it wasn’t exceptionally gripping, or ultimately great. It was okay.
One thing I loved was the ‘love’ aspect of the novel. Ash doesn’t fall for some ideal person, or a fantasy. She realizes that that could never make her happy, and even pokes fun at times to those who do that. Instead, she develops a relationship that eventually leads her down that pathway, banishing the instantaneous love attraction found in so many tales.
I give Ash 4/5 stars. It’s not one of the best books I’ve read, but it’s a good retelling of an old story. It didn’t meet my expectations, but it was interesting enough to keep me reading.