Ash by Malinda Lo
I had this book a while, long while but didn't read it until now. Will admit I was a bit hesitant after finding out there is a second book that is more of a prequel to this one because then I didn't know which to read first. But I finally picked up Ash and started reading. Here is my review and it works great for Day 1 of A to Z blog challenge and bloggers.
About the Book: 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.
My Review: I think the line on the cover of my book says it pretty well when it says "It's not the fairy tale you remember." Which is both true and slightly off at the same time. There are many aspects of the book, throughout the whole book, that are reminiscent of the Cinderella tale that we all should know by now (as most retelling stories have some of the similar features). Her father dies, as one would expect and she's left to her stepmother who also has two girls. She works for them and falls asleep by the fire and is fond of books. There is even a masquerade. But among the familiar are also very unfamiliar factors. Such as the existence of the fairies, the huntress and the fact that it's not about her and the prince. And it all works.
One thing I liked in particular about the book is that even though Ash is torn between a male fairy and the female huntress in the story, there isn't a big deal made over sexual orientation in the world. Pretty early in the book she sees two girls who kiss, for example, and it's not a big deal. It just happens. There is no question about it or how she feels. She doesn't worry about what liking the huntress means either. It's a part of life and nothing more.
Also, while there is a love triangle and mister fairy has a few negative points due to the creepy factor (you'll notice if you read the book) there is a reason behind the triangle and it's not one of those annoying types. To me, the annoying type is the "I can't decide" and "they are both so hot" ones. It's also told in third person instead of first, which helps in some ways but even in first person, it wouldn't reach that annoying factor because Ash isn't focused on how hot one of them is or the other. The love that happens in the story is built up slow and is subtle. I like subtle.
Anyone looking for an interesting, fantasy retelling of Cinderella should check out this book, whether having read the prequel or not. Ash is a pleasant read that while a tad slow in beginning has a creative twist to the classic tale that will keep you reading to find out how it will end.
Reviewed by Dawn Embers