by Malinda Lo
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 was just the fairy tale I needed. I want to say I wish it would’ve existed when I was little then again I’m not so sure I would’ve realized it was what I needed then. I grew up reading fairy tales and when those got old retellings. Then I moved from fairy tale retellings to faeries, as in the ones found in Holly Black’s ‘Modern Faerie Tale’ books…a much darker being.
Ash reminded me of a mix between Tithe (Holly Black), some Once Upon a Time series novel, and a Donna Jo Napoli book (the queen of retellings). The prose was rich, full of depth, and gorgeous. The story was beautifully stung together like that of a fairy tale you might tell a child a night except it held a tad bit more darkness than you would find in Disney yet not as much as in Brothers Grimm (close sometimes).
The relationship between Kaisa and Ash seemed very real to me, their love was beautiful. When I was preparing to read this book, I researched the author and read some past posts on her blog. Interestingly she originally had Ash falling in love with the prince. I’m so glad she had the courage to listen to her characters and didn’t. The whole point of a retelling is that it can be reimagined, in whatever way, whatever world you chose. It’s nice when authors really let themselves take advantage of this freedom.
I absolutely adored Ash. I’ve recommended this book to a few people and none of them have said anything about it being a “lesbian Cinderella”. I think publishers need to trust readers more, sure there are people who are going to care, but honestly, if your writing is good I’m not going to miss out on reading an amazing book because the main character has a different sexual orientation than I do. If that was the case, I’d never read any “bestsellers”. The story is what’s most important, I’ve said this again and again…if your story sucks, good luck.