Tags: YA, fantasy, fairy tale, retelling, Cinderella, lyrical, love, GLBTQ
Rating: 5 out of 5
Aisling was just a young girl when she lost first her mother, then her father, to death. Now she lives with her cruel stepmother and irritating stepsisters, forced to tend to their every whim and demand. The only times Ash feels remotely happy is when she can escape into the magical wood and be with her fairy friend Sidhean.
But Ash’s world changes yet again when she befriends Kaisa, the King’s Huntress. Kaisa doesn’t see Ash’s servant clothes, and instead keeps her company and teaches her how to hunt. Torn between an cold eternity with Sidhean and a life with Kaisa, Ash must find the strength to be true to herself.
ASH is one of those books that I read slowly, savoring each beautifully crafted line, running the words and imagery through my head until they became poetry in action. Malinda’s sensuous writing brings Ash’s world and the characters within to blazing, ethereal life: you can fully tell that you are immersed in a fairy tale world, one that doesn’t just satisfy, but leaves you wanting more.
I’ve often heard ASH described as a lesbian retelling of Cinderella; in fact, I think that I have used that comparison myself. However, this book is so much more than that. As the story went along, and Ash suffered under her stepmother’s rule, then triumphed in her own little ways of grasping happiness, I came to see the novel as a moving tribute to the triumph of human spirit and desire to live in the face of adversity. ASH is a story that anyone can relate to, a story that can get to anyone.
The closer I got to the ending, the slower I read, so badly did I not want the story to end. When the end inevitably came, I was devastated, so moved was I by Ash’s development from scared and petulant girl to a young woman capable of living and loving again. What else can I say that would do this novel justice? It has a bit of everything for everyone: a magical world for fantasy lovers, incredible writing for aspiring authors, a moving love story for romantics, and a je ne sais quoi (edited: thanks, Tynga! my years of high school French all those years ago got rusty) that makes it stand out from other books. Enough of this now; read it and experience the magic of ASH and Malinda Lo for yourself.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 5 out of 5 - A beautiful book deserves a beautiful cover, and that's exactly what ASH gets. The girl in the middle seems delicate, otherworldly, and irresistible, and there's just an incredible amount of visual texture from the rest of the image. A+ for Little, Brown.
Little, Brown / Sept. 1, 2009)
Thank you, Malinda, for offering me an ARC!
For more information about and links to the ASH Celebration, click HERE.
For one entry to the ASH Celebration Giveaway, answer the following question: What draws you to love certain books? The characters? The romance? The writing? Anything else?