Book Review: "Ash" by Malinda Lo

Summary from 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.

This book is not normally the type of book I read. I like my YA books to be contemporary, chick lit-ish, dystopia or even trashy (hah!). I'm not really big on fantasy or paranormal books because I just don't really get into those types of books when I'm reading. However, this book caught my eye for several reasons. It's written by an Asian American author and it's also a retelling of the Cinderella story with a twist. Plus I had hear a lot of buzz about it so I wanted to check it out for myself.

I won't lie, every time I think of Cinderella these days, I picture not the Disney version but the Ever After Drew Barrymore version. So throughout this story I kept seeing those characters in my mind. That helped out quite a bit because it really brought this story to life. Lo's writing is beautiful and poetic and I love how the central fairy tale story is in place but with slight differences to create a whole new story. Her stepmother is witch with a B. I really hate how Ash is punished for her father's faults. I mean, yes I understand that stepmom is upset to learn that he had gone into debt but don't take it out on a kid. I'm glad that at least one of the stepsisters is rather friendly towards Ash. It takes out some of the sting she gets from the treatment of her stepmother and other stepsister. I really felt like I was drawn into the story. The whole fairies bit was a really nice twist on the fairy godmother aspect.

Now to get to the elephant in the room, yes there is a lesbian relationship in this book. So if you have problems with that, well then you're just not going to read this book and nothing I say will change your mind. However, if you're ok with having an open mind or have no problems with this at all, it's actually not a huge part of the book. Yes it happens but 1) there's nothing graphic about it all for those who are worried and 2) it just happens. Honestly, there's not some big moment where Ash looks around and goes, "Hey I like girls." It's more like she found the person who she wanted to be with and it happened to be a girl. That's all.

As I said before, this is normally not the type of book that I read. But now that I'm done with this one, I'm really glad that I read it. It's great when you step out of your comfort zone, try something new and then find out that you like it. I'm a bit sad that the next book by Lo, while in the same world as Ash, is not a sequel. On her website, Lo said that this story is over and that the characters lives after this are boring, but I still would have loved to read what happens next. But I am glad that I have HUNTRESS in my TBR pile and am looking forward to reading it.

Ash by Malinda Lo is published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers (2010)

This review copy was provided by a publicist


  1. Anonymous11:26 AM

    I loved this book - I think Lo is an amazing writer.

    Huntress is really good too - I liked it more than Ash actually!


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