Publisher’s Synopsis: Cinderella retold
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.
3 out of 5 stars
This is Malinda Lo’s debut novel and once again, I found myself reading YA fiction. This is heralded to be the lesbian Cinderella and you know I love fairy tales so I was prepared to enjoy this book.
This is a very different retelling of the Cinderella story. The writing is lovely and we are able to learn about and mourn along with Ash the death of her mother who we know virtually nothing about in the traditional version. Her mother was a greenwitch, an earth witch that practiced the old magics. The story opens with her death and memories of her are woven into the rest of the book.
Ash’s father remarries the expected stepmother and her two daughters and then mysteriously dies. She is then uprooted from all she knows, moved far away from her home, and forced into a life of servitude. Sound familiar? Here is where the story takes on it’s own life.
Ash wanders the Woods when she can escape from her stepmother, a scary place said to be filled with all sorts of mysterious creatures. She meets Sidhean, a fairy prince who is cursed to love a human girl (no fairy godmother in this book!). Dangerously seductive, he begins a strange friendship with her at the same time he her warns her away again and again. He grants Ash’s wishes, but all wishes come with a price.
She also meets Kaisa, the Huntress, while wandering the Woods. Kaisa is the King’s Huntress and becomes Ash’s reason to love again. Their friendship develops slowly, and slowly blooms into love. Very well done for a YA novel.
The Prince is almost a non-character in this retelling and I get the impression that he is there just enough to stay true to the original tale. The two step sisters are more than just plain evil. Not the nicest of people but they are indeed people and we are able to see them as such, filled with hopes and insecurities. I do wish Sidhean as a character was more fleshed out; that he was more than just the fairy prince that granted Ash’s wishes. He loves her but just kind of disappears at the end of the book.
A well written YA novel, it has some flaws, but it’s worth a read.