Thursday, July 8, 2010

ASH Review

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.


For those of you wondering at the summary, yes, Ash is a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. Instead of falling in love with the prince, Ash slowly begins to fall in love with Kaisa. Though love doesn't come easily, as Ash has lost all those who she loved. Her mother and father are both dead, and she is forced to live with her stepmother and stepsisters who see Ash as a maid to help around the house. As she meets Kaisa and falls in love, her world changes in ways she never believed possible.

In all honesty, I have never read a romance where the couple doesn't consist of a girl and a guy, but am far from homophobic. I was surprised at how slowly Malinda Lo introduced the romance, and highly impressed at how well she was able to describe Ash's emotions upon realizing her love for Kaisa. For those of you who don't want to read it simply because the main character is a lesbian, grow up. That's all I have to say.

The entire story was beautiful, carrying small hints of the original tale, but twisting it elegantly. Passages flowed easily and the characters appeared real. I know I mention this in a lot of my reviews, but it's something that's important to me. I don't want to read about perfect characters who are only real on paper. Reading about characters who can exist in the real world is so much more exciting, and Malinda Lo crafts her characters so well they flow from the page and in to the real world.

Another thing I really enjoyed were the fairy tales dotted throughout the book. In itself, Ash is a fairy tale, but the characters read and tell each other other stories throughout the novel, which only adds to the intrigue. Each tale plays a part in understanding Ash's world and the fairies who live in it, without pushing the details on the reader, which I loved.

Lo has a great command of language. I found myself reading and becoming completely immersed in her world and ignoring my own. Only a great writer can do that. I can't think of anything negative to be found in the book.

If I may add a note. The book itself, not just the story, is beautiful. I love the cover, and, at the beginning of each chapter, the first letter is made large and decorative, like those in an old storybook. It goes so well with the story.

If you couldn't tell from my review, I loved Ash and it's a book I highly recommend to anyone who loves adventure, or romance, or fairy tales. It is extremely well written and I do have to say that Malinda Lo has the most beautiful writing style I have read.

Rating: A

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