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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: Ash 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, re-reading 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 classic Cinderella fairy tale, but it’s also so much more than that too. It’s a tale of courage, hope and self discovery. There are plenty of similarities to the original tale, but Malinda Lo has made enough changes to give the story new depth, and really make it stand apart from the fairy tale as its own unique novel.

When her stepmother forces Ash to work off debts claimed to have been incurred by her father, Ash's days became exhausting and meaningless. With no hope, no love and only more and more hard work in her future, Ash finds solace in her deceased mother’s fairy tales. She spends her time dreaming of being stolen away by fairies and when able to, steals into the forests in the hopes of meeting one to whisk her away or grant her wishes, no matter what the price. She ends up meeting the dark and mysterious Sidhean, who repeatedly turns her away from fairy though he seems to be drawn to her.

My favorite aspect of this book was the fairy element. I was enchanted by the idea of all this folklore being passed down from generation to generation. The fairy lore that Malinda Lo wove into the narrative made the forest shimmer with danger and mystery. I kept wondering how much of it was true and what Ash was going to encounter in her own travels. I couldn’t help be drawn to Ash's character with her sad childhood and love of all things fairy.

Throughout the novel I couldn’t wait for Ash to get away from her overbearing stepmother and find happiness. But she was a strong protagonist, one who didn’t wait for Prince Charming to come and save her. Ash set out to save herself at all costs instead. I loved that she took matters into her own hands and had the courage to find a better life by her own means. Kaisa, the King’s Huntress was an extremely well developed character. Her relationship with Ash was subtle and natural. The choices that Ash had to make between Kaisa and Sidhean really had me turning the pages anxiously. All Ash really wanted was love and I think the underlying message of this book, is that in the end, that’s the only thing that matters.

Malinda is fresh new talent and I look forward to more of her novels. Ash is a definite must read for the fall 2009 season.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (September 1st 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316040096
ISBN-13: 978-0316040099 Buy at Amazon, Amazon UK, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Books-a-million

Malinda Lo was born in China and moved to the United States as a child. She grew up in Colorado and has since lived in Boston, New York, London, Beijing, Los Angeles and San Francisco. She is the former managing editor of AfterEllen.com, the largest entertainment news website for lesbians and bisexual women. In 2006, Malinda was awarded the Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Journalism by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and has master’s degrees from Harvard and Stanford universities. Malinda now lives in Northern California with her partner and their dog. Ash is her first novel.
Visit Malinda Lo at her Official Website


Limerick said...

Ash sounds so good! I'll have to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

Jazz said...

The story sounds beautiful. Great review!

celi.a said...

I love twists on classic fairy tales. Can't wait to pick this one up!

Lauren said...

I'm expecting copy of this in the mail soon, and I'm *so* excited. It sounds like I'm going to love the characters!

RayRay said...

Oh wow I really want to read this. Time to add it to my wishlist.