Review: Ash by Malinda Lo

8792631Ash by Malinda Lo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Point of View: 3rd Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling (Cinderella), LGBT

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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.


Lesbian retelling of the beloved CINDERELLA fairy tale.

What a lovely book. It’s beautifully-written, beautifully-told and so interesting.

Although the beginning begs the question, ‘‘Is this really a retelling?’’ meaning that it’s far too similar to the original story, the rest, however, is full of originality.

I’m going to warn you right away that Ash is a one-dimensional character. When you think about it, so is Cinderella in the original fairy tale. Actually, the majority of fairy tale heroes and heroines are one-dimensional, because the focus is on the story and message behind it than the characters themselves.

That’s why I never expected Ash to be the most three-dimensional of characters. Still, she is very relatable nonetheless. Unlike Cinderella, she has hate in her heart. Not a huge amount of it, but it’s still present and will not go away in a snap of fingers. Cinderella knows not what hate is, so one can argue that Cinderella and Ash are two very different people, despite their circumstances.

Oh and, Ash is lesbian. That’s a major difference.

Like I said, it’s so interesting. Instead of solely focusing on retelling the events of CINDERELLA, Malinda Lo plays with the world-building as well, giving it an important role in the story. In Ash’s world, magic is something few believe in now that is has mostly disappeared, but Ash’s mother told her of so many stories involving magic and fairies that the belief in it remains in her heart.

Granted, it’s a slow story. Things certainly do not progress at the speed of light. But it’s a lush story with lush writing and a lovely romance. Ash does not know how she feels about the King’s Huntress. Their relationship, like everything else in the story, evolves slowly. It’s one of the things that make Ash relatable to us—because who never ever questioned their sexuality?

What a surprising book. As in, I really didn’t expect to love it so much.


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4 thoughts on “Review: Ash by Malinda Lo

  1. I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it – glad you enjoyed it to. I still have to pick up the sequel, huntress though. Would be curious to hear you’re thoughts on that one.


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