Ash by Malinda Lo 

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.

 

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Review

If you know the story of Cinderella then you know how this story will begin, but somewhere near the middle it starts to introduce new elements and veer off on its own path. Ash has a fairy guardian named Sidhean.

In order to feel some sort of freedom from her stepmother and stepsisters, Ash takes every opportunity she has to escape into the Woods. Where old world magic still exists. This is were she meets with Sidhean and they form a sort of friendship, but since Ash spends so much time out in the Wood she also happens upon the King’s Huntress, Kaisa, a few times as well. Ash and Kaisa also develop a friendship and Ash becomes torn between two worlds. Both  seem forbidden to her.

It is a interesting retelling of an old tale.  I’ve read stories with strong females before so I guess having a Huntress instead of a Hunter wasn’t unexpected.

I mostly enjoyed this novel and I’d probably read something else by her in the future.

Ash isn’t just choosing between two particular suitors. Her attraction to the fairy lord, Sidhean, is based largely on the oblivion he can give her. In her grief for her mother, Ash thinks this is what she wants. Kaisa, the King’s Huntress who becomes her other love interest, represents life in all its vivid joys and pains.  

Then there’s a part of me that wonders why the Cinderella base is needed. Perhaps  if Ash were choosing between the Huntress and the prince, or if Sidhean himself were the prince. As it is, the prince/ball/midnight stuff feels a little tacked on.  

Ash is a  interesting twist on a classic story

 

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