Published: September 1st, 2009 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Series: N/A | Length: 264 pages | Genre: YA, fairytale retellings, LGBTQ, romance, fantasy | Source: Borrowed from library
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Knowing that this was a Cinderella retelling that also incorporated a same-sex relationship, I couldn’t resist picking it up when I saw it at the library. I’d heard really good things about Malinda Lo’s writing before and had been wanting to check out some of her books too. So this seemed like a great choice for me to read.
I’m struggling with reviewing this a lot because while I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to, I think a lot of that has to do with me being in a bit of a reading slump, rather than being because of the book itself. I’m going to point out everything that I did and didn’t like, but keep in mind that I’m in a slump which made it hard for me to get into the story 100%.
First off, I really liked the magical elements that Lo brought into the story. Obviously, in the original Cinderella story that we’ve all known since we were kids, there’s the Fairy Godmother who helps Cinderella. So it’s not as if the original story doesn’t have magic. But I loved what Lo adds into it. Fairies are the only magical creature we actually see, but there are tons of fairy tales and other magical creatures mentioned throughout the book. I’m actually pretty interested in finding out what Lo’s inspiration was behind all of the fairytales that are told in the story.
Lo’s writing was great too. It’s really descriptive and quite beautiful without being long-winded or over the top. I know a lot of people enjoy super descriptive writing, but I usually don’t because I find it goes on for too long and I get bored before the paragraph is over. But this wasn’t an issue with Lo’s writing at all, which was a pleasant surprise.
The reason I struggled with this book so much was because I really just could not connect with Ash. I didn’t really like her as a main character. She didn’t seem to have much of a personality. I felt bad for her because of the abuse and everything that she faces, but I just wasn’t invested in her. Because I didn’t feel any kind of connection with her, I didn’t get really into the story either. I couldn’t get past not connecting with Ash and ultimately because of that, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I could have.
Of course, I did really enjoy the fact that this had a same-sex relationship. Ash becomes really close with the King’s Huntress, Kaisa. I liked Kaisa quite a bit more than Ash actually and would’ve gladly sat there and read a whole book about her. Even without really liking Ash, I still liked the scenes with them together.
Overall, this is a good book that I would have enjoyed so much more if I connected with Ash more. If you like reading fantasy, retellings, or books with LGBTQ characters, I’d recommend reading this. I’d personally love to reread this again in the future when I’m not in a slump and see if I enjoy it more.