by Malinda Lo


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The haunting, romantic lesbian retelling of Cinderella and modern queer classic by award-winning author Malinda Lo — now with an introduction by Holly Black, a letter from the author, a Q&A, and more!

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. 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. Their friendship, as delicate as a new bloom, 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 and empowering, Ash beautifully unfolds the connections between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316531313
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 05/14/2019
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 134,145
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Malinda Lo is the critically acclaimed author of Ash, Huntress, Adaptation, Inheritance, and A Line in the Dark. Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and was a Kirkus Best Book for Children and Teens. She has been a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Malinda's nonfiction has been published by The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Huffington Post, The Toast, The Horn Book, and AfterEllen. She lives with her partner in Massachusetts. She invites you to visit her online at

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Ash 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 244 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think my favorite part about this book was the fact that the heroine falls in love with a woman and ~no one effing cares.~ As a young lesbian, all I want is to find a character I can relate to. Ash is totally that character. She's adventurous, ambitious, and a bit ruled by her heart. The fact that this book ISN'T one of those that reads, "And she was in love with... wait for it... ANOTHER GIRL! OH MY GLOBBBB and everyone was so shocked that they promptly died, leaving our young martyrs to cry forever, the end" resonated so, so strongly with me. I was at a time in my life where I was still a bit unsure that being openly gay was okay. This book really, really helped me with that. Malinda Lo writes this fantasy world the way I feel our world should (and hopefully will) be some day: that it doesn't matter at all if you are queer or straight or whatever. All that matters is your story.
minniep More than 1 year ago
The funny part about this book is you have to remind your self that this is a "take" on a classic fairy tale. Theres only 1 scene that closely relates to cinderella, and the fact that she is left to the mercy of her step mother, other wise this books stands on its on. the writting style of the author is rock solid, you find your self cheering out loud for the main character and at the end of the book all you really want is for her to get happy ending no matter what she decides. I loved it!
SeeMichelleRead More than 1 year ago
What drew me to this book first off is the gorgey cover. And trust me when I say that it's even prettier in person than on this here screen. After the death of her beloved father, Ash is left to fend for herself against her cruel stepmother, who forces her to work as a servant to repay her father's debts. Lost in her despair, far away from friends, Ash begins to seek out the faeries - when she meets the dangerously beautiful Sidhean, whom she hopes will take her away from all her pain and misery. Then Ash meets the King's Huntress Kaisa who befriends Ash and teaches her to hunt and ride; showing her things Ash never thought possible. Kaisa's friendship forces Ash to consider her choices and eventually leads her to turn to her dark faery for help as she tries to keep her place in the world of the living for a chance at love. Knowing Ash was a Cinderella retelling I was looking for the proverbial plot devices and was pleasantly surprised to find only slight mentions at the most. Yes, Ash is orphaned and left to her cruel stepmother, yes, she ends up sleeping next to the fireplace a time or two, and yes, she does charm the prince at the ball - but those details are by no means the most intriguing parts of the story. Malinda Lo seamlessly weaves a lyrical story of not just a girl trying to find her place in the world but also of in faeries and love and the strength to fight for what you want. All this happens in a completely spell-binding new world that I found myself too lost in to even begin thinking about how this is not your traditional wishy-washy Disney Cinderella. Ash is no storybook princess and it's no surprise she is drawn to the King's Huntress with her steady sword and ability to roam free. I do wish Malinda Lo had taken a bit more time to explore Ash's world since the world building was only partway explained and I wanted more back-story on the Huntress, more about the faeries, and more about the royal family and their customs. Each of these facets brought a new and compelling aspect to Ash but the details for each left me hoping for more. Although, what we do get is unfailing beautiful and compelling and made this a standout in amongst other Cinderella retellings. Since I've never read a book that featured same-sex romance, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Malinda Lo handled the entire situation. It's not over the top and the buildup quietly subtle and by no means unnecessarily dramatic. In Ash, homosexuality isn't even an issue, which created this wide open space for Kaisa and Ash to maneuver in since no one even felt like it was anything out of the ordinary - other than the fact that the two were well on their way to True Love Land.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. I am a sucker for that uncomfortable feeling a person gets when they start to figure out that they are attracted to another person. Well written.
asamum More than 1 year ago
An imaginative reworking of a classic fairytale. A fairytale with real fairies, a male fairy protector rather than the fairy godmothers of old. Wonderful ethereal imagery. Fabulously sensory descriptions. As a bibliophile I adored the description of a book left to Ash by her mother. A truly enchanting tale. However, I did find the homosexuality to be glamorised. The book makes it sound like an easy choice to make, I do not believe this is the case. I have a few homosexual friends and know from their experience that it is a very difficult admission and can cause rifts with family and friends. On the whole a beautiful modern fairytale but I don't think I will be giving it to my children to read until they are old enough to understand the full implications of such choices.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
There's something about fairy tales that always feel magical. No matter the story, no matter the characters, there is something about them that just makes you feel the magic inside them. ASH makes you feel every bit of that magic, and more. Just about everyone, everyone female at least, over the age of 13 or so has heard and/or seen the story of Cinderella. Whether it is Disney's version or the classic fairy tale or the Brothers Grimm version or even one of the other hundreds of versions that have been created over the years, we all know it. ASH is a version that I'm sure you've never heard of before, but that you should. After losing her mother, Ash's father takes a wife, Lady Isobel. Soon after meeting Lady Isobel, her and her two daughters move into the house with Ash and her father and things drastically change. In line with the fairy tale, Ash's father becomes gravely ill and passes away shortly thereafter. Which not only leaves Ash heartbroken, but also leaves her without either of her parents, and stuck with a "family" that doesn't even like to look at her. This is the beginning that we all know about Cinderella, and while Ash has many aspects that are the same as the original tale, they are not the same in the slightest. Ash doesn't get the typical fairy godmother; she gets something else all together, but something even more powerful than anything in the candy-coated version that is fed to us as children. Ash gets a fairy, Sidhean, who is even more lethal and dangerous than anything her stepmother or stepsisters could do/say to Ash. But that's masked in an extent by the beauty and the friendship that lies between Ash and Sidhean. And I mean that to an extent far more than the typical connection between two characters; their relationship is more developed and deeper than most would have thought possible in a novel that doesn't even break 300 pages. But one day Ash's life, and heart, changes forever. She meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, and there is something between them that's different from the second they meet. Ash begins to stop chasing fairies and starts to live in the world without fairies and the fairy tales, and learns how to hunt and to ride and to track animals. But in this change of life, there is a price for keeping it and for continuing to let it grow. Through her relationship with Kaisa, Ash finds what it means to grow and what it means to let her heart guide her and, in that realization, she also finds a new capacity to live. Ash prefers the company of the Huntress to the company of the Prince, and that makes this story even more powerful. Malinda Lo has created a world that is magical and finds its own footing in a world where fairy tales are viewed as being for children and has given the older crowd a fairy tale of their own. This is some of the most beautiful, lyrical writing I've seen in a long time and that is so refreshing. The imagery just blows me away and it's like you're standing right there with Ash through everything, whether it be pain, joy, adventure, or terror. It would kill me to see this story get cast aside and labeled a "lesbian retelling of Cinderella," because it's so much more than that. It's a beautiful story that anyone could relate to and that everyone could take something away from... Read the full review at
pagese More than 1 year ago
I knew about the difference in this story from the traditional Cinderella fairytale. But, it was still hard for me to acknowledge the fact that she doesn't end up with the prince in this story. And, I was very glad the biggest difference wasn't thrown in your face. Instead, what you have is a beautifully written story. It is raw and emotional. You can help but feel for Ash through every heartache and ordeal she goes through. I also felt that fairies and their myths and tales were such an intricate part of the story. Ash's belief and interactions with them made her such a different lead character. This story was far different from anything else I read in 2009. I would recommend it to anyone who likes fairy tales retold, and don't mind something different.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really didn't like this book. The last 30 pages of so I just kept rolling my eyes at the stupid things the main character did or that happened. It didn't feel anything like Cinderella at all so I don't know why she bothered to pretend like it was a retelling of the story. Basically the only thing similar was the prince looking for a wife and balls and fairy magic. But the prince story line is randomly mentioned so it feels really disconnected from the huntress and fairy parts of the book. it would have been better if she just took the story she seemed like she wanted to write and ran with it instead of trying to randomly connect it to Cinderella, like "umm... and she sleeps on the hearth sometimes! that's what Cinderella does! Annnd.. it's been like 40 pages since there's been anything for me to pretend that this is based off of Cinderella so I guess I'll throw something in about the prince looking for a wife! Oh I know! And then I'll have her dance with the prince and then have her randomly leave him in the garden!" The clash between green witches and the church thing was really underdeveloped, it was like she threw that in in the beginning and then once the dad died she didn't need to deal with that crap anymore and hardly mentioned it again for the rest of the book. I feel like Ash herself wasn't very fleshed out, and her interactions with her stepmother and sisters aren't very believable or don't really show Ash's reactions. There's once scene near the end where they're doing all this horrible stuff to her and there's hardly any detail about how she's reacting. Did she just stand there and do nothing to try and defend herself? It was just really irritating that she could escape at practically any time and then doesn't. It was just a really irritating story and I really wish I hadn't wasted the time reading it.
bigbearphx More than 1 year ago
Aisling ("Ash" for short) was still a young girl when both of her parents died, and she found herself living with her stepmother and two stepsisters, who treated her as a lowly servant. Her mother had instilled in her a love for the stories of the fairies who reportedly inhabited the Wood, a place where humans - especially young girls - were cautioned never to wander alone at night, since they might be captured by these magical creatures. Since the fairies were her only link to her carefree life before her mother's death, Ash ignored the warnings, and soon found herself bargaining with the head fairy, Sidhean, in order to be closer to Kaisa, the King's Huntress, whom she encountered on one of her walks in the Wood. But as it came time to pay her debt to Sidhean, she began to understand what her mother had told her about finding happiness. Touted by the publisher and other reviewers as a "lesbian take on Cinderella," it is actually much more than that. Sure, we have the gala ball at the palace, dancing with the prince, a midnight curfew, and even an evil stepmother. But the story also gives a plausible introduction to how "fairy tales" may have evolved through the ages, commendable illustrations of conflicts between social classes, and a lesson on diversity that can inspire its intended young readers in today's world. This first-time novelist shows significant talent in being able to weave such a complex, magical tale, inhabiting it with beautifully-drawn multidimensional characters, in a life-lesson that can appeal to readers of any age, gender or sexual orientation. Feminists may object to the fact that it emulates Cinderella, a story about a young lady who relied on others to provide the means to live her life, but I think this update shows Ash to have significant initiative and empowerment. Though I am not generally fond of fantasy novels, I found this story to be rewarding, with my only complaint that I found the pace of the story to be uneven and occasionally plodding. Overall, I give the book a rousing chorus of "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" ... and four fairytale stars out of five! - Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
elissajanine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a lovely, enchanting read. The fairytale tone is perfect, and Lo creates a rich and vivid world in both the forest and the court, while the love story unfolds shyly and realistically. I love the way the retelling takes the base of the Cinderella tale and builds on it, and my only complaint is that many of the characters--Ash included--are so very reserved that I find myself wanting more from them...more clues to who they are and how they feel. I'm very glad that I finally got a chance to read this book, and I'm excited to read Huntress, out in April. :)
_Zoe_ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I never abandon books decisively. I prefer to put them down for a while, always leaving open the possibility of returning someday and picking up where I'd left off. The books aren't "abandoned", they're just not being read actively right now.In the case of Ash, I had to make an exception. I am not going to pick up this book again. The story holds almost no interest for me, and I have so many better things to read.The general premise of the book sounds like something I would enjoy: it's billed as a Cinderella retelling, except that Cinderella turns out to be a lesbian and doesn't end up with the prince. This should be interesting. I like fairy tale retellings, and a completely new variant on a familiar story can be a lot of fun. I can imagine the publisher thinking this too: "That sounds edgy and subversive; let's go for it!"Unfortunately, there's one fatal flaw. The protagonist, Ash, has absolutely no personality. She seems to act almost at random, following her whims or doing whatever someone else tells her to do at the moment. There's no sense of forethought or motivation in her actions. She doesn't have long-term goals or desires. How can we care about a character who, at the most basic level, just doesn't seem to *think*? I'm not interested in watching someone drift around randomly through life. I want to relate to the main character, to understand her thoughts and feelings, to care about what happens to her.There was none of that here. The one glimpse of Ash's character that I saw in the 70 pages I read before abandoning the book didn't exactly endear her to me; she was unfriendly to her new stepsisters even before they had a chance to reveal themselves as evil. This isn't someone I want to know better.Still, I initially held out hopes that the book would improve. Then I talked to other people who had read it, and my optimism vanished. They did indeed say that it got a bit better--not because Ash developed a personality, but because her love interest was a better character, and we would get to know her later on. Moreover, they assured me, the book was short so I might as well just stick it out.Well, I'm not looking for a book to stick out to the bitter end. I want a book I can enjoy. It seems Ash is just not that book.
millett23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a beautifully written book, yet for some reason this book was just so-so for me. I was wanting her to be with Sidhean, not the huntress or maybe even end up being with the princes. I guess I am just a fairy-tale dreamer.
thelibrarina on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book a lot, but I sort of wish it was about Kaisa instead of Ash. Kaisa fascinates me--I would read an entire series about her adventures as the King's Huntress. But I found Ash's actions sometimes frustrating. HOW many times do you have to run into the possessive fairy guy before you decide to stop wandering around the forest?I felt that the ending was a little too pat--I've never seen a fairy story where the fairy was content to part with what he thought was his. But I enjoyed the book's twist to the traditional Cinderella tale, and I liked the storytelling tone of the novel.
Henriettatwloha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ash is a beautiful retelling of the Cinderella story. Lo's writing is simply stunning and amazingly gorgeous. Ash is such a sweet and warm heroine, you can't help but love her. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, the scenery was exquisitely painted upon the page, the words seemed as if they were the actual scenes painted there so that I may witness them in all their glory rather than simply reading about them. The characters were multi-layered and enjoyable to read, all except the evil stepmother and stepsister of course. The only problem I had was the ending. It seemed a bit abrupt for my tastes and I felt that it could have had a better climax. Over all, I loved Ash. It is an exquisitely well written and beautiful book cover to cover. I would recommend it to everyone.
pussycatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a "retelling" of Cinderella in some ways, though very different as well. I will admit I didn't even realize it was supposed to be based on the story until pretty far in. It was a very engrossing book and I did enjoy it very much. It makes you feel like you're part if the fairytale itself. I wasn't too fond of the ending (my personal choices would have been very different) but that is strictly due to my personal opinion and will not necessarily be other's view on it.
MyBookishWays on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh, how to describe this beautiful novel? Yes, it is a "retelling" of Cinderella, however, Malinda Lo took me into a world that I've never experienced with such feeling. Her prose is stunning, and she creates a melancholy that's just perfect for winter reading. We follow Ash as she experiences the utter grief of her father's death, and is thrust into the hands of her vindictive and hateful stepmother, and as she meets the Faery Prince Sidhean, and the mysterious and enchanting Kaisa, the King's Huntress. Ultimately this is a novel of love and sacrifice, and as we journey through ancient forests, heavy with ancient and powerful magic, we are taught what it really means to follow your heart. This is a love story that shouldn't be missed! Keep an eye out for Ms. Lo's new novel, Huntress, coming in April!
LyndaGabby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cinderella has been done so many times and so many different ways that it can get kind of old after a while.There are some pretty cool things that Malinda Lo does different though which is enough to make it fresh. To me at least.The best part of the story to me was the obsessive love is not True Love message. Which please don't get me wrong I actually liked Twilight but as a one time deal kind of thing. Not as a 'now every teen book must contain a love triangle wherein the girl will be followed and the object of unyielding attention which is a good thing because omg LOVE'Also real fairies.Also Malindo Lo creates her own mythology with the Huntress, (also the name of her prequel which was pretty good)On many levels it's a Cinderella story yes. But on a deeper level it shows a girl suffering from loss, depression and abuse and how love, the giving of it and the receiving, can save a life. End of cliche gushing. It's an awesome book and you should read it right away.
thenightbookmobile on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
LESBIANS! BEARS!* HUNTERS! OH MY! Please, someone inform the government. We have a retelling of Cinderella on our hands that includes lesbians. The world must be ending. It must be 2011. This is more terrifying than Y2k.Other reviews I¿ve seen claim the problem with this book is the fact that our Cinderella is Bisexual. This is not the issue with this book and that sort of response makes me horribly depressed. We need more heroines like this. We need more heroines who aren¿t heteronormative in YA. Maybe, just maybe, that young girl who is afraid to come out and tell people who she really is, will read this book and feel that¿s it¿s just a little less impossible. That sounds worth it, don¿t you think?I truly applaud Malinda Lo for the idea she has presented here. For the modern Cinderella. May Belle, Aurora, Snow White and others go down the same path. However, I wish I could end this review here with this praise, but I cannot. We must go forward.This book had all of the potential in the world. Unfortunately, I don¿t feel that it met the expectations I had upon picking it up. I enjoyed the beginning, where we learned of Ash¿s tragic childhood, and all that she lost. As Ash grew older and began her interactions with the fairy, I lost interest in the story. When Kaisa arrived, I was expecting a love story to rival that of Bennet and Darcy, but what I got was more along the lines of¿ well, some other boring couple who lacked passion and chemistry, so much so that I have forgotten them.Perhaps I felt disconnected from Ash¿s relationship with Kaisa because she does not enter the story until the second half of the book. Once she does appear in the story, my interest did increase, but not enough to save this novel for me. Their relationship progressed quickly and seemingly without much development. I never felt that Kaisa and Ash¿s relationship was given the time to shine or develop. I wanted to root for them so badly, but I just couldn¿t see it. When I closed the book, I closed it feeling detached and unaffected, which is something I hate to feel in response to literature. When I feel it, it¿s with regret.
MichelleSimkins on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm less a fan of epic/traditional fantasy of the horses and villages variety, but if that's your thing you would probably love this. I personally felt like the protagonist could have used some spunk. On the other hand, it was beautifully written, the romance was tender and the atmosphere was beautifully realized. And who doesn't love a fairy tale with a lesbian twist?
BookRatMisty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ash is one of those books that seemed to catch like wildfire in the blogosphere. One day, you've never heard of it, and the next, it's everywhere, and you have to read it. And like most suddenly ubiquitous books, I have mixed feelings... Ash is a non-traditional retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale. Ash is a young girl who loses her parents and finds herself thrust into the care of her newly made family: a callous step-mother and distant, spoiled step-sisters. She is removed from her distant home village and all it's country traditions and beliefs to a city near the capitol, where fairy tales really are just tales, and everything Ash has always believed and pursued is laughed at or looked down on. But Ash finds herself the object of attention of a very unusual being named Sidhean, and though she likes this attention, she finds herself torn between Sidhean and the King's huntress, Kaisa. Both have the ability to drastically change her life... Sounds good, right? I was super excited for a number of reasons. 1) I love fairy tale retellings. 2) I was intrigued by a Cinderella with a LGBT slant. 3) EVERYONE seemed to be raving about this. 4) The cover close up is gorgeous, and I am a sucker for a good cover, we all know that. And though I did like this, I like it with reservations, so I'm going to break this into two parts of each aspect: the good (fairy) and the bad (fairy). Aspect One: Ash The Good (fairy): I loved watching Ash develop. It's the Cinderella story at it's core: you watch a charming/pretty/intelligent girl who doesn't realize what she's capable of, or what the world holds for her blossom into the woman she is meant to be. When Sidhean enters the story, Ash perks up a bit, but when Kaisa comes in, she blooms, and the story is truly enjoyable from then on. The Bad (fairy): Kaisa doesn't enter the story until quite a ways in, and until then, it's not nearly as enjoyable. It's not that it's ever really bad, but I didn't find myself drawn in, nothing really came alive until Kaisa, except for the brief moments with Sidhean. Aspect Two: Love The Good (fairy): One of my absolute favorite things about this, and one of the best decisions I think Lo made while crafting this story, is how she dealt with the idea of love. I know there are people who will worry when they hear it is a gay retelling of Cinderella, and they will think that it's going to hit you over the head with it, or be anti-straight, or try to "convert" you, or some other equally ridiculous thing. Of course, it did not do that. What Lo created was a world where love is love. When Kaisa and Ash begin to find themselves drawn to each other, they are not looked down upon. Attraction is attraction, people are people, love is love. There is also some nice pull and ambiguity between the three: Ash is drawn to Sidhean, who is a man, as well as Kaisa, who is a woman, and no issue is ever made of that. I liked that aspect a lot, and it was handled nicely. The Bad (fairy): is a spoiler*, so if you want to know, it's at the bottom. Aspect Three: Language and Writing The Good (fairy): There are times when this flows beautifully, and when Ash's world is completely engaging and light. As I said before, this is mostly when Kaisa comes into the story. Through much of the story, I think the writing is writing. I wouldn't put it heavily on one side (good) or the other (bad). The Bad (fairy): Mostly, though, I wanted more from the writing. I kept waiting for something to really stop me in my tracks or take my breath away. I am a quote person, and I tab things that catch my fancy. I didn't feel a need to tab. Ash's narration felt disengaged and overly formal, especially for a sort of backwoods girl. There was a stilted feel, and I had a hard time at first getting into the story because I just didn't find the narration engaging. Also, I felt like Lo didn't take full advantage of everything. Things could have been more: taut/exciting/powerful, but they were sometimes glossed over o
jackiediorio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ash wants nothing more to be near her mother, so she steals away to her grave everyday to lay upon her gravestone and pray for death. She hears stories of the fae, who take living people away into their world, never to be seen again, and she yearns for it so much that she repeatedly places herself in the path of danger. Strangely, a beautiful but dangerous man of the fae saves her every time she does this.One day, Ash is wandering in the forest when she meets the King's huntress, a beautiful and talented young woman who starts to teach Ash how to ride. Between her and the bargains she has made with her dangerous fae man, Ash must choose her future, and hope that she can deal with the consequences thereof."Ash" a quiet somberness to it that any girls who have ever felt disconnected from their worlds will be able to relate to, especially if they have lost a loved one. More than that, the book has a surprising ending for a fairy tale, or even a fantasy; the kind of ending that books for teenagers needs now more than ever. This book belongs in every library, although the ones in more conservative areas may find it controversial. That is because the love that Ash ends up choosing is that of her female huntress friend, although their love is never described in any sexual way. Still, this will be controversial in some places, but should be welcomed in others.
melissaconway on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In order to set the stage for this review, I should give you a little information about me. I¿m a writer of fiction who recently switched genres from Chick Lit to Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-fi.There were three reasons I picked this book. First, because of the aforementioned switch, I want to keep abreast of what¿s being published in my new genre so I understand the market. Second, Booksquawk was low on young adult review submissions. Third, I was in the bookstore underwhelmed by the glut of young adult vampire novels and overwhelmed by the rather urgent need to get my six-year-old son out of there before he knocked over an entire shelf while I was distracted trying to read the back covers of books.Ash has eye-catching cover art, the blurb on the back has a short excerpt and three glowing reviews from other authors, and the inside cover has a brief synopsis. Under pressure to hurry, I skimmed the first page, impressed, but then my son, who is in self-imposed training to become a circus clown, sneezed violently and with much spittle into the wooden face of a character painted on a cutout display. That was what decided me on Ash.The reason I¿ve spelled this decision out in such a way is to let you know how it came to be that I had no idea Ash was, as author Malinda Lo describes it on her website, ¿a lesbian retelling of Cinderella.¿No clue.I got halfway through the novel, enjoying it greatly except for a few glaring editing issues, such as, ¿Ash asked curiously,¿ when suddenly I started wondering, ¿Is Ash into this other chick?¿ I flipped to the end, where [spoiler alert!] it appeared there was a happy ending¿and yes, she hooks up with another woman. So I re-read the back cover, where other than a suggestion of intimacy in the short excerpt, it doesn¿t really come out and say the story is a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. The inside flap would have given me a better idea what to expect, but it too required thoughtful interpretation, and since I was highly distracted when I first glanced at it, well, you know what happened.If I had known, I probably would have set Ash back on the shelf and moved on to something more suited to a heterosexual who enjoys imagining herself as the heroine. But now that I had it in hand and found it to be a lyrical story that had thus far brought tears to my eyes more than once, I saw no reason not to finish it. After all, gays and lesbians are bombarded with hetero romance in every imaginable medium. If something made me uncomfortable, I could always flip past it.So I read on.Ash¿s world is a place where fairies are not the Disneyfied caricatures we grew up with, but the more traditional magical creatures out of legend. Instead of a benevolent fairy Godmother, Ash is saddled with a male fairy named Sidhean who, through a curse placed on him by Ash¿s own mother in a rather vague plot device, has a crush on her¿complete with stalkerish tendancies. He¿s powerful and persuasive, and as Ash grows from coddled child to orphaned servant, he convinces her that she will one day be his. Refreshingly, Ash¿s world also seems to be a place where same-sex couples are commonplace or even de rigueur; although not free from angst, this is not a coming-out type novel. Even though author Lo sets the stage via Ash¿s conviction and Sidhean¿s confirmation that she will have a steep price to pay for the favors he grants her (trip to the ball a la Cinderella, etc.), it all ends rather meekly, with hardly a repercussion for her final choice to stay in the human world with her female lover. The love scenes themselves are handled so delicately that I didn¿t have to flip past anything at all. With young adult novels all over the board as far as sexual content, Lo could have gone into more detail, but she didn¿t; the novel kept descriptions of physical contact to a minimum and they were tender and sweet rather than graphic. The story maintains a dreamy quality throughout, reminiscent of old-style fairy tales. According to the bio on
mossing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is a twist on the traditional tale of Cinderella. Ash is orphaned, left with her evil stepmother to do drudge work around the house. She is deeply unhappy, but she clings to her mother's legacy of magic and traditional tales. She is drawn into different worlds- the world of the nobility by the King's huntress, Kaisa, and the world of the elves by Sidhean. Ash grows and learns throughout the story, and she is forced to choose between the two worlds. The story is different enough from the traditional tale to be interesting, and the reader agonizes along with Ash in her dilemma. Fans of fantasy, romance, and strong female characters will enjoy this book. Ages 12-16. Recommended purchase.
senbei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿I¿ll give thee fairies to attend on thee, and they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep, and sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep, and I will purge thy mortal grossness so that thou shalt like an airy spirit go¿.As a thinly-veiled retelling of Cinderellla, Malinda Lo¿s Ash is likely the most fun and enchanting version yet. Aisling (AKA Ash) is so naturally humble and full of life it¿s a bittersweet pill to travel with her through her childhood traumas and fears and later into undeserved servitude. Yet every setback is punctuated with a silvery visitation from fairy folk, as the enchanted forest is Ash¿s sole solace. Although Ash may have been written for a younger audience, a reader of any age is helpless but to be transmigrated to the state of mind of a child in wonder. Ash is interspersed with a great many fairy tales (I am ashamed I cannot say which are historical tales), and as the reader descends into each, one cannot almost hear a merry musical accompaniment dancing along the wooden trails. It is unfortunate that Ash doesn¿t have illustrations, but in truth none are necessary to behold the clever vistas Lo paints.Admittedly Aisling¿s step-sister and mother are highly two-dimensional, which comes off as somewhat odd given that Sidhead (Aisling¿s Changling champion) is endowed with such mysterious and mercurial moods. It¿s far too easy to cast Lady Isobel into the ¿wicked step-mother¿ role with her inhuman antics. Generally an antagonist needs to be more than simply the protagonist¿s enemy, but keeping with the Cinderella form was obviously important to the author. Fortunately Clara has more shades of gray than her sister: if one is supposed to view Clara as more human and humane than her Ana and Isobel, or even as a chrysalis, why then did she never lift a hand to protect Aisling and stop the abuse? Clara¿s inaction in the face of her sister¿s torture does nothing but paint her solidly in the archetype ¿wicked¿ colors, it¿s difficult to say if this was the author¿s intention.As a piece of young adult literature Ash has a strong candidacy. It¿s fun. It¿s cute. It¿s mischievious. It¿s sad and poignant. It¿s a beautiful and touching young lesbian love story and despite her station, Aisling fights for her love and follows her heart. The protagonist overcomes incredible adversity and even takes responsibility and faces the music when it¿s time to pay the piper. Aisling undergoes a dramatic change and learns to take control of her own destiny from those that would lead her to ruin. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and am only sad it was so short. Maybe the fire that burns half as long burns twice as brightly; hopefully it was short by design and not on the advice of the publisher. I eagerly await Malinda Lo¿s next work.
TheRandomGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This isn't the tale Cinderella tale we know. With it's own unique characters and a world beyond way our own, Ash takes the old story of Cinderella and shapes it into it's own breathtaking and different tale.I honestly don't know which Cinderella story I like best, Malinda Lo's version or the other retellings of Cinderella, because they are all great stories in their own way. The story starts off with the death of Ash's mother, which is where Ash's journey begins to kick off. With her mother dead, her father remarries a woman with a cruel personality and Ash earns two step-sisters. These characters have been brought to life by Malinda Lo's creative and unique writing.I guess you could say that Kaisa, the King's Huntress, is Ash's Prince Charming--or Princess. Ash and Kaisa's friendship was something I enjoyed reading throughout the book. While it's a girl-on-girl romance, it didn't bother me. It was just like any other romance, sweet and exciting in it's own way.Before Ash became very interested in Kaisa there was Sidhean, a faerie. In my opinion, I think Sidhean had a weird case of mood swings. But other than that I thought he was an intriguing and mysterious character. He was like the fairy godmother of Ash. I enjoyed reading Ash although I stopped reading for a long period of time, hence the three stars. But Ash has it's own magical touch with interesting tales inserted here and there. I applaud Malinda Lo for her remarkable writing and for being unique and daring. It's refreshing to read something different from the usual romance novels.