Ash
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.

Ash Details

TitleAsh
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 1st, 2009
PublisherLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN0316040096
ISBN-139780316040099
Number of pages264 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Glbt, Romance, Fiction

Ash Review

  • karen
    October 26, 2010
    goddamn it, this was my bright shiny hope for gay YA week! this was the one i was banking on to be my best "assigned-but-loved-the-whole-time-i-was-reading-it-and-this-is-why-i-am-paying-for-grad-school-discovery." a lesbian retelling of cinderella?? sign me up! i've already read what robert coover and angela carter have done to improve fairy tales, let's see where this one goes!and it starts out great - the writing is wonderful; it is very literary and lush and haunting. boy meets boy and keepi goddamn it, this was my bright shiny hope for gay YA week! this was the one i was banking on to be my best "assigned-but-loved-the-whole-time-i-was-reading-it-and-this-is-why-i-am-paying-for-grad-school-discovery." a lesbian retelling of cinderella?? sign me up! i've already read what robert coover and angela carter have done to improve fairy tales, let's see where this one goes!and it starts out great - the writing is wonderful; it is very literary and lush and haunting. boy meets boy and keeping you a secret were so chatty and conversational - this one required more involvement from the reader, which involvement i have been missing in a big way. it's not a difficult read, but unlike the others, it is not all surface reading; there is depth here that elevates it to the ranks of "litterature," yessss.but.fairy tales are generally symbolic stories which mask universal human desires too emotional or frightening to deal with head-on. is this a universal truth, or am i letting my undergrad "psychology of fairy tales" class color my thinking here? let's say we all know this to be so. i simply do not understand this character's motivations, or what leads her on to her fairy tale ending. is it just a matter of "the heart wants what the heart wants", and we don't need to explain what attracts two people to each other? there was no "moment of falling". i never got a sense of character from the huntress; she remained enigmatic. strangely, she was even more enigmatic than ash's fairy-lover, with his intoxicating presence and fancy gifts and willingness to assist ash in all her assignations. am i the only one feeling bad for sidhean?? his was a "forbidden love", too, and he didn't even get any say in the matter. damn curses.so as a fairy tale, it fails me, psychologically. and as a lesbian awakening novel, it fails me, too. we never see them fall in love, we never understand why. in the world of this novel, the same-gender love is not shocking, it is not taboo - sometimes girls just go with girls. so kudos on that, but this does two things: it removes conflict, except the conflict of "do i go with my awesome fairy lover which is what i have wanted since i was a little girl, or do i go with my awesome huntress woman who is badass and has a great job." two great options, must be nice. in this world, she is not choosing the love that dares not speak its name over the more traditional lover, in fact, she is choosing the more socially acceptable one. mindboggling.so but also, it is not developed enough to be that casual. because we never see the love developing, it just sort of seems unconvincing at the end. this is my favorite review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... because this reader obviously didn't see this turn coming, and is confused by its ending, since nothing else suggests that this is where it is going to be going. i don't know if the stars are meant to avoid spoilers (although, really, you don't have to be a master wordsmith) or because it is a naughty naughty word, but it made me laugh. clearly, in the world of teen readership, we are not ready for lesbian lit that does not proclaim itself from the outset, as this other reviewer's surprise seems to indicate: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/.... secret, creep-up-on-you lesbian fiction?? maybe in a few years. biding our time, ladies...
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  • Tatiana
    November 7, 2011
    I will pick Disney's version of Cinderella over Ash any day and without the slightest hesitation. For a book with such a provocative, potentially controversial premise, Ash is dreadfully, painfully dull and lacking in strong emotion and vibrant characters. This retelling is both familiar and slightly new (albeit in an uninteresting and directionless way). In this version, orphaned Ash is forced to be a serving maid to her (not so evil) stepmother and stepsisters. But instead of sneaking into the I will pick Disney's version of Cinderella over Ash any day and without the slightest hesitation. For a book with such a provocative, potentially controversial premise, Ash is dreadfully, painfully dull and lacking in strong emotion and vibrant characters. This retelling is both familiar and slightly new (albeit in an uninteresting and directionless way). In this version, orphaned Ash is forced to be a serving maid to her (not so evil) stepmother and stepsisters. But instead of sneaking into the royal ball and meeting The Prince, Ash comes across a fairy prince and a huntress with whom she has occasional long walks in the woods. The Prince never becomes Ash's viable suitor.On a technical level, the book is written well enough. Lo's style has some elegance to it. However, the style doesn't compensate for the novel's weak plot.Where was the conflict, I'd like to ask first? I finished the book still searching for one. Accepting one's own homosexuality certainly isn't it. In the novel's world, being a lesbian is not forbidden, and the main character never for a moment struggles with her sexual awakening.Is it Ash's choice between the fairy prince and the Royal Huntress then? No again. Considering how little chemistry the heroine has with either of them, that is not the answer.Or maybe it is Ash's shady deal with her fairy suitor? But that works out so easily, it's not even worth mentioning.I have no more guesses.What makes this already plotless story even less palatable is the lack of any strong feeling in it. There is no passion of first real love, there is no fight against time, even the reliable anger towards the stepmother isn't there, because this usually easily hated character isn't sufficiently hate-inducing. There is not even some humor or witty or heartfelt dialog to liven things up.My overall impression of Ash is that it is dull, boring and pointless. If not for its lesbian Cinderella fame, I doubt this novel would have gained any readers at all.
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  • Riley
    July 21, 2016
    This is the fairytale I always wanted
  • Heather
    September 12, 2009
    The GoodReads five-star rating system isn't perfect because some books (like, say, pretty much all Fitzgerald and Salinger) get five stars because I think they're just freaking brilliant writing; while other books (like, say, Bridget Jones's Diary and the Traveling Pants books) get five stars because I love the characters so much. Then, of course, there are the Harry Potters and Tales of Despereaux that receive five stars because it's like they retell my whole world: Remember how lost you were w The GoodReads five-star rating system isn't perfect because some books (like, say, pretty much all Fitzgerald and Salinger) get five stars because I think they're just freaking brilliant writing; while other books (like, say, Bridget Jones's Diary and the Traveling Pants books) get five stars because I love the characters so much. Then, of course, there are the Harry Potters and Tales of Despereaux that receive five stars because it's like they retell my whole world: Remember how lost you were when you were younger? This is what you were looking for!Ash was that last thing for me. I've always thought fairy tales were history books, always revered the Woods, always been reckless in pursuit of adventure, always wanted to fall in love with a girl. That's this heroine.Once I really got into Ash, I couldn't get out. I'm giving it four stars for freshness, four stars for writing, five stars for magic and five stars for speaking to greater truth. Plus, I am giving it five bonus stars for waking up the little kid in me. She doesn't exactly hibernate, but sometimes gets so bored with the adult world that she is forced into a long winter's nap. I loved how Malinda -- I can call her that; she was my editor once -- writes about the smell of magic. And this: "Have you ever wanted to be a princess?" Ash challenged her. "That depends," Kaisa said. "On what?" "On whether I would have to marry a prince."
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  • branewurms
    April 17, 2011
    eta: You know, I figured when I wrote this "review" that I had made it sufficiently ridiculous and over-the-top that no one on Earth could possibly take it seriously. I mean, I claim that DISNEY INVENTED CINDERELLA, people. And then there's the link at the end labeled "real review here", which should maybe be a hint? But okay, whatever, for those of you who are apparently utterly impervious to sarcasm, here is your blinking neon sign: THIS REVIEW IS INTENDED AS SATIRE. Also, just fyi, I am prett eta: You know, I figured when I wrote this "review" that I had made it sufficiently ridiculous and over-the-top that no one on Earth could possibly take it seriously. I mean, I claim that DISNEY INVENTED CINDERELLA, people. And then there's the link at the end labeled "real review here", which should maybe be a hint? But okay, whatever, for those of you who are apparently utterly impervious to sarcasm, here is your blinking neon sign: THIS REVIEW IS INTENDED AS SATIRE. Also, just fyi, I am pretty sure Johnathan Swift did not eat babies, Irish or otherwise. I hope this information this clears many things up for you.The original review:Omg, you guys, did you realize that in this book, Cinderella ends up in a LESBIAN RELATIONSHIP?! How could anyone even imagine such a bizarre thing?! Because it's not like fairy tales involve the most bizarre shit known to man or anything, and even if they do, lesbians are way weirder. And why do you want to go around changing Cinderella in the first place! It's not like it's a folktale with thousands of variants all over the world - Disney invented it and it's perfect the way it is! How dare anyone seek to rework a fairy tale in a manner that relates to their own life and experiences! Cinderella belongs to ME and I don't want it to be gay! It's not like there are a gazillionty of the usual heteronormative retellings of the story out there for me to enjoy, and besides, I am offended that anyone could even conceive of a fairy tale princess as a lesbian, because it's totally obvious that everything in the world should be catered to ME ME ME and MY desires and experiences!Jeez, gay people. Always getting the idea that they deserve things of their own, like they think they're actual real people or something. Such entitlement, sheesh. (real review here: http://branewurms.dreamwidth.org/6195...)
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  • Kristy
    November 2, 2010
    No, No, No, No, No!!!!Cinderella is not a lesbian!!! Ack, she is suppsed to fall in love with Prince charming and be doted on by silly little mice. This is a crock! I had a hard time getting into this in the beginning, then the middle hooked me for a hot minute, but the end is such a hot mess I can't even go there!! I expected more Fairies, more darkness, more love (in male form). I got nothing of the sort!! Blek, I do NOT reccomend this!!Acceptable forms of Cinderella: The Mouse Lover or The Dr No, No, No, No, No!!!!Cinderella is not a lesbian!!! Ack, she is suppsed to fall in love with Prince charming and be doted on by silly little mice. This is a crock! I had a hard time getting into this in the beginning, then the middle hooked me for a hot minute, but the end is such a hot mess I can't even go there!! I expected more Fairies, more darkness, more love (in male form). I got nothing of the sort!! Blek, I do NOT reccomend this!!Acceptable forms of Cinderella: The Mouse Lover or The Drew FairyNot Thiscrossed with That and a touch of Wack-o!
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  • The Holy Terror
    August 21, 2009
    What starts out as a simple retelling of Cinderella turns into so much more, and the Prince is all but forgotten ...If you know the story of Cinderella then you know most of the beginning of the book, but somewhere near the middle it starts to veer off on its own path. Ash has a fairy(godfather?) who watches over her named Sidhean (pronounced Sheen - I looked it up because it was driving me nuts!) In order to feel some sort of freedom from her stepmother and stepsisters, Ash takes every opportun What starts out as a simple retelling of Cinderella turns into so much more, and the Prince is all but forgotten ...If you know the story of Cinderella then you know most of the beginning of the book, but somewhere near the middle it starts to veer off on its own path. Ash has a fairy(godfather?) who watches over her named Sidhean (pronounced Sheen - I looked it up because it was driving me nuts!) In order to feel some sort of freedom from her stepmother and stepsisters, Ash takes every opportunity she has to escape into the Wood. She meets with Sidhean and they form a sort of friendship, but since Ash spends so much time out in the Wood she also happens upon the King's Huntress, Kaisa, a few times as well. Ash and Kaisa also develop a friendship and Ash becomes torn between two worlds and both seem forbidden to her.I'm not sure how I feel about the way this story played out. It was written well enough and was an interesting retelling of an old tale, but I don't think I liked the way it ended. Throughout the book Ash reads and is told by various people many different fairy tales. She even remarks near the end of the book that all of the tales were meant to warn people of dangers in life and that there was always a moral to the story. I'm not sure that Ash really figured out the moral; it's almost like she realized a loophole instead.I also felt bad for Sidhean, the Prince, and most of the men in the story as they were basically cast-off into the background. Even with Sidhean it felt like he was more of an experiment than an actual love-interest. I've read stories with strong females before so I guess having a Huntress instead of a Hunter didn't translate to me, it sort of went over my head. I also didn't know the author was a lesbian until I read her bio on the last page, and perhaps knowing that before I read this could have clued me into the fact that this was a lesbian romance. I think that says something about Lo's ability to create believable relationships though, if I didn't even realize the two of them were supposedly falling in love. I mostly enjoyed this novel and I'd probably read something else by her in the future. A lot of the reviews on here make me pretty sad though, especially the ones that say you shouldn't give this book to a teen to read because it's "sick," and "how dare she mess with a classic fairy-tale!" Ugh, really? The whole point of fairy-tale retellings is to make them feel new and different while still keeping some of the themes. If you want the "same old, same old" then just go read whichever "original" version is your favorite and stop reading retellings; you'll be doing everyone a favor.
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  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
    May 7, 2015
    *3.5/5
  • Kristi
    April 24, 2009
    What a outstanding debut novel! Malinda Lo absolutely blew me away. The writing was elegant, beautifully lyrical. Malinda has this unbelievable talent for detail and atmospheric setting. She captures the very essence of the world she created. I just felt like I was there.Characterization was fantastic as well. With such vivid imagery you might think the characterization would suffer, but I think they stood out so intensely because of it.Ash is a retelling, so some of the story shouldn’t come as What a outstanding debut novel! Malinda Lo absolutely blew me away. The writing was elegant, beautifully lyrical. Malinda has this unbelievable talent for detail and atmospheric setting. She captures the very essence of the world she created. I just felt like I was there.Characterization was fantastic as well. With such vivid imagery you might think the characterization would suffer, but I think they stood out so intensely because of it.Ash is a retelling, so some of the story shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Lo was able to weave her own unique take into the fabled fairy-tale seamlessly. I loved the depth to this novel. The faerie world is explored much more in this re-telling, and of course Ash, herself, prefers the King’s Huntress to the Prince. On that note, I’d hate to see this novel labeled as nothing more than “a lesbian retelling of Cinderella” because it is so very much more than that. Ash is a story that anyone can relate to.Overall an amazing debut, and a beautiful story.
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  • Janina
    September 25, 2010
    Ash by Malinda Lo is definitely a beautiful retelling of the classic Cinderella story - writing-wise. Lo creates an eerie yet fascinating atmosphere with her lyrical prose and the setting is described in rich details. She interweaves fairy tales and traditions of her own into the story and creates a world the reader can immerse himself in.Additionally, Ash is clearly more than a simple retelling; it adds aspects to the original tale and has quite some twists readers probably won't suspect in the Ash by Malinda Lo is definitely a beautiful retelling of the classic Cinderella story - writing-wise. Lo creates an eerie yet fascinating atmosphere with her lyrical prose and the setting is described in rich details. She interweaves fairy tales and traditions of her own into the story and creates a world the reader can immerse himself in.Additionally, Ash is clearly more than a simple retelling; it adds aspects to the original tale and has quite some twists readers probably won't suspect in the beginning.Nevertheless, the – in my opinion - most important aspects, the characters and their relationships, lack depth and I never grew particularly fond of Ash nor did I really understand the motives behind her decisions. The reason for this is clearly the fairytale character of this book: the writing seems distant - it tells a story from far away: long spans of time are covered in short passages and a lot of scenes lack dialogue and - simply put - feelings. All these aspects made it impossible for me to really connect with Ash, the huntress or the fairy prince.Ash definitely is a great book in terms of writing and setting, but for me it's still the characters that make a story what it is. With this one, I missed the certain something that would have made it an unforgettable read.
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  • Becky
    October 20, 2010
    I have had this one on my To-Read radar for a while because I was intrigued by a lesbian Cinderella retelling. So, now I've re-read it, and I have to say I'm a bit - no, more than a bit - disappointed with it. This whole book just felt confused. There are likely spoilers below. Read at your own risk. First of all, the lesbian aspect of this story was extremely disappointing to me. I so wanted this to be a PROUD self-identification coming-out story, like Annie on my Mind was. Instead, the lesbian I have had this one on my To-Read radar for a while because I was intrigued by a lesbian Cinderella retelling. So, now I've re-read it, and I have to say I'm a bit - no, more than a bit - disappointed with it. This whole book just felt confused. There are likely spoilers below. Read at your own risk. First of all, the lesbian aspect of this story was extremely disappointing to me. I so wanted this to be a PROUD self-identification coming-out story, like Annie on my Mind was. Instead, the lesbian aspect was, in my opinion, the weakest aspect of the entire book. And since that seems to me to be the foundation of this story, everything else flopped with it. There was (almost) nothing to even hint that a lesbian love story was in the works at all until almost the very end of the story. There's friendship, sure, but very little confusion from Ash as to her feelings for Kaisa, very little understanding regarding them either. No discussion between the girls as to their feelings, nothing to hint that Kaisa feels anything more than friendship and caring on those terms. It just isn't anything one minute, and the next it is. I feel like it could have been ANYONE that Ash loved - anyone who was kind to her, and talked to her, and befriended and loved her. What made Kaisa that person? What was so enticing about Kaisa? She seemed rather cardboard cutout to me. Secondly, as a retelling, it was kind of disappointing to me in that it didn't really follow the original story. I know that in retellings, the author has leeway to move her (or his) story into a different area, and that's fine - but this one just felt confused. We had some parts of the original Cinderella story (the cruel step-mother and step-sisters, the eligible Prince looking for his bride-to-be, the fairy who gives Cinderella/Ash the means to attend the ball, etc), but then those aspects just felt out of place in the story that was actually told, because the Prince wasn't Ash's "savior" as he was Cinderella's, the fairy had quite different motives and reasons for helping Ash than Cinderella's fairy-godmother did. It just seemed confused, as if it didn't want to be the Cinderella story, but had to include those parts because they were expected.Third, I felt like the fairy/fairy-tale storyline overwhelmed the rest of the story. I get the importance of this aspect, but I got very tired of it very quickly. How many times can your main character wander in the Wood and stay interesting? Not that many, it turns out. I was bored after the first time. Ash runs into the Wood, Sidhead would find her and bring her home. Every time he tells her (or hints) a little bit more about Things. 'Things' being fairies and how they interact with humans, and Ash particularly. There was so much description of the Wood, my eyes glazed over. I enjoy fairy-tales of the Grimm and HCA variety. This one just bored me. So much perfection and so little conflict. Blergh. Finally, I need to mention something that just seemed strange to me. The whole "Huntress" thing. I don't get it. I am really torn on this one. Really torn. I don't really understand why there was a "Royal Huntress" at all. Was this just a typically male role (hunter) that was appropriated for Kaisa to hold, one that would also put her in a position of authority in the court so that Ash would be protected after running away from Lady Isobel? Was it supposed to show gender nonconformity? Or, is it supposed to differentiate the Fairies from the Humans... perhaps show the Fairies (non-hunters) as weaker/feminine with the Huntress/humans as stronger/masculine? Show Kaisa as a straightforward friend/lover and Sidhead as a manipulative illusionist and kidnapper type? I'm not sure what the goal was with this. Especially since Kaisa doesn't even enjoy hunting. Why do it then? What is the point? Why is it in the story? Am I missing something? It just seems like this book fell short for me on all levels. I wanted this to be a girl finding herself and finding love with another girl story, set up as a retelling of Cinderella. This wasn't that, except in the loosest terms possible, and it was all around disappointing.
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  • Shawnta
    January 22, 2010
    Ash was my absolutely favorite read of 2009. A Cinderella with a twist of darkness and lore, the characterization of a young girl, family, love, and disappointment, left me inside of this world and I think I still haven't found my way out. Since reading Ash, I am desperately seeking that language, that energy, those woods, the doublespeak that Lo so artfully rendered. As I type this, I am flipping through the pages, and stopping when my fingers have reached their random destination. Here, a samp Ash was my absolutely favorite read of 2009. A Cinderella with a twist of darkness and lore, the characterization of a young girl, family, love, and disappointment, left me inside of this world and I think I still haven't found my way out. Since reading Ash, I am desperately seeking that language, that energy, those woods, the doublespeak that Lo so artfully rendered. As I type this, I am flipping through the pages, and stopping when my fingers have reached their random destination. Here, a sample: "Impulsively, she went to the horse and held her hand out; the mare sniffed at her empty palm and then looked at her with gleaming brown eyes that seemed to reproach her for not having an apple to share." This 2nd sentence of Chapter XIII summarizes for me the entirety of the novel as well as the complexity of Malinda Lo's lyrical craft. Ash, driven by impulse, and communicating with beings not like herself, she still reaches, still forges forward, and insists on movement. "she went to the horse" because the horse would not come to her. The richness in action is one that every young girl ought to internalize. In this stage in the novel, there was no need for the reader to doubt that this was Ash's impulse because we have seen her grow. "the mare sniffed at her empty palm" This is actually a poem, is it not? I visualize this instance, the sniff, or rather, the presence of a large black wet nose pointing towards a small emptiness like an arrow. What could Ash offer, it seems is the question of the novel, of Ash's interaction with her family, her village, her step family, her new love interest, her obsession in the woods. I bite into my honey crisp apple, and nod at the reproach (or Ash's assumption of reproach) for not having an apple. And what is Ash's response to this mare's stare? Does she cry, does she run away, does she pluck the horse at the tip of its nose and growl back? Please read the book to find out, because it matters. And Lo is expert in telling the story of death and life and loss and new beginnings in each small description. Each slice of bread, every dance and feast, every walk in the woods is a retelling of something magical.
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  • Sue (Hollywood News Source)
    June 4, 2015
    I devoured Ash in between of my Lord of the Rings movie marathon. It’s a Cinderella retelling, but with a twist. It’s a wlw book! I love, love, the quaint vibes of the novel, and the lyrical writing. I wholly appreciate the in depth characterization of abuse, the difference between hero worshipping, and attraction. Verdict: I can't get enough, and Lo needs to write more fantasy books. Review to come.
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  • Paige (Enchantology)
    September 2, 2016
    4.5 stars
  • Kelly
    October 7, 2009
    (3.5 stars)Malinda Lo combines several highly creative ideas in her debut novel, Ash. We all know the tale of Cinderella, but it's never been told quite like this. Cinderella (here called Aisling, Ash for short) falls for a young woman instead of the prince. And the fairy who helps Ash break free of her stepmother is no rosy-cheeked godmother, but a coldly beautiful fairy lord right out of the older, darker legends of the fey folk, and he demands a steep price for his aid. On paper, I love every (3.5 stars)Malinda Lo combines several highly creative ideas in her debut novel, Ash. We all know the tale of Cinderella, but it's never been told quite like this. Cinderella (here called Aisling, Ash for short) falls for a young woman instead of the prince. And the fairy who helps Ash break free of her stepmother is no rosy-cheeked godmother, but a coldly beautiful fairy lord right out of the older, darker legends of the fey folk, and he demands a steep price for his aid. On paper, I love everything about this concept, and I also liked Lo's writing: "She walked this way for a long time, but the light did not change; it seemed to always be morning. The sun continued its bright blinking overhead, and when shafts of golden light came through the leafy canopy, dust motes hung in the air, glittering as bright as diamonds. It was an enchantment, she was sure. This wood was so gentle in comparison to the dark, thick forests near Rook Hill. There, the evergreens were so tall and so old she could not see the tops of them; here, oak and birch branches broke the sky into lacy filigrees of light green, exposing the tender blue above." The major conflict is an intriguing one. Ash isn't just choosing between two particular suitors. Her attraction to the fairy lord, Sidhean, is based largely on the oblivion he can give her. In her grief for her mother, Ash thinks this is what she wants. Kaisa, the King's Huntress who becomes her other love interest, represents life in all its vivid joys and pains. Unfortunately, Ash never quite grabbed me. Part of the problem is that it just takes a long time for the plot to get rolling. For much of the first half of the book, Ash spends most of her time brooding and/or wandering in the woods. While crucial plot points are set up during this time, they don't come to fruition until much later. Lo's descriptions of the woods are beautiful, but I grew impatient with the cycle of depression--wandering--depression--wandering... Then there's a part of me that wonders why this story needed, well, Cinderella. Maybe if Ash were choosing between the Huntress and the prince, or if Sidhean himself were the prince and Ash fled from a fairy ball rather than a human one, or if an eligible princess held a ball to meet potential husbands and found Ash instead, the Cinderella story would fit better. As it is, the prince/ball/midnight stuff feels a little tacked on. The prince is never in the running for Ash's affections, and almost doesn't need to be here at all. And some of the less satisfying aspects of the plot occur when Lo is trying to fit the Cinderella story and her own story together. For example, Ash finds a fairy path through the forest that takes her back, in less than a day's journey, to her home village, where I can think of at least two people who would have taken her in. Sidhean sends her back to her stepmother's house every time she makes the trip, ostensibly because she's breaking fairy rules, but also because this is a Cinderella story and she can't escape her stepmother or else it'll be a different story. So, Ash ends up staying there, long after it starts seeming out of character. Then again, Lo states on her Web site that she started with a more standard Cinderella story and only later realized her heroine was a lesbian, so I'm probably off-base in complaining about the Cinderella elements. All of my complaints aside, Ash is a promising and creative debut with a lot of great things going for it. I will definitely look for later books by Malinda Lo in the future.
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  • Caroline
    April 3, 2010
    Nothing redeeming about this book at all.SPOILER ALERTAsh's mother (who was some sort of greenwitch) dies. Couple of days later her Father goes into town and returns with the wicked stepmom and 2 step daughters. The old greenwitch Ash's mother apprenticed under warns her father of fairies/elves? but Ash's father refuses to listen to the old ways his deceased wife believes and sends her on her way. Shortly after he becomes 'sick' (some sort of fairy/old magic sickness) and dies. Ash moves into th Nothing redeeming about this book at all.SPOILER ALERTAsh's mother (who was some sort of greenwitch) dies. Couple of days later her Father goes into town and returns with the wicked stepmom and 2 step daughters. The old greenwitch Ash's mother apprenticed under warns her father of fairies/elves? but Ash's father refuses to listen to the old ways his deceased wife believes and sends her on her way. Shortly after he becomes 'sick' (some sort of fairy/old magic sickness) and dies. Ash moves into the city with her b*tch stepmom who forces Ash to be her maid to pay off her father's failed business debts. Meanwhile, Ash is meeting this male elf (fairy, whatever they are) who acts cold but protective of her (not letting her enter the fairy rings, forcing her to return home, etc).Enter Kaisa the King's Huntress. The two grow fond of each other. In order to attend some kind of ball and see Kaisa, Ash makes a pact with Sidhean (the elf/fairy guy) but in return she must become his possession in a sense.Blah blah blah, long story short. Sidhean was attracted to Ash's mother because she had the willpower to resist him (he's never been turned down before, major blow to a fae boy's ego). She actually goes as far as to curse him to fall in love with a human girl. And he fell in love with Ash. Ash is in love with Kaisa (and vice versa). To keep her promise, Ash returns to Sidhean, telling him if he truly loved her, he'd let her go but she would stay one day with him to keep her end of the bargain (their 'days' are longer than human days remember). He agrees to this.Ash is able to return to Kaisa and begin their lesbian love affair. thus ends the GLBT version of the Cinderella fairy tale. Are you kidding me? Really nonsensical.Sidhean was way cooler. Like everyone else, I bemoan the fact the author chose to shrug off the dynamics pertaining to him. He just shows up off and on granting her wishes and giving her a ride home. And he had to have been a deep character. He wanted Ash, but kept trying to push her away for her own sake, even though she was kinda of throwing herself at him. He keeps reminding her that her mom is dead, and to stop wishing for her to return. As superstitious as her mom was, Ash KNEW the consequences of asking for gifts/favors from elves/fairies. Yet she asked. TWICE. Sidhean NEVER held anything back from her, like the others of his kind, who try to entice her with their dances and looks and coaxing. He's the exact OPPOSITE, trying to warn her away from him. He's down right cold to her at times (and I'm well aware that the reason for this is partially because he doesn't appreciate being in love with a human girl, but I also think he was taken with Ash's mother's strength ans saw her face in Ash's). He told her upfront, you ask for this, there will be a price: you'll belong to me. And she STILL asked. Doesn't seem fair she gets to have her cake and eat it too.I didn't get a thing from Kaisa. Her character struck me as a bit 'bleh'. She goes around hunting dressed in her boots leggings tunic and bloody gloves. "....." Ok. another thing I didn't get is that, although Ash never tells Kaisa of her deal with Sidhean, Kaisa tells Ash she wants to help her no matter what. So uhh... maybe like, the whole time Ash could have, i dunno, told Kaisa her stepmom was being an abusive ass and..i dunno..she could have stayed with Kaisa? Cut out the middleman (Sidhean)?I'm seriously done ripping through this story.
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  • Tori (InToriLex)
    September 1, 2015
    Find this and other Reviews at InToriLex Actual Rating 2.5 [image error] This was a book club read, shout out to the Boston Radical Women of Color Book Club. I recently joined this book club and this was my first read with the group. I wanted to like and enjoy this book much more then I did. This is a Cinderella retelling where the protagonist falls for a Huntress and not a Prince. But it is in no way too risque or racy. In fact I expected a lot more from this controversial retelling.  In the Find this and other Reviews at InToriLex Actual Rating 2.5 [image error] This was a book club read, shout out to the Boston Radical Women of Color Book Club. I recently joined this book club and this was my first read with the group. I wanted to like and enjoy this book much more then I did. This is a Cinderella retelling where the protagonist falls for a Huntress and not a Prince. But it is in no way too risque or racy. In fact I expected a lot more from this controversial retelling.  In the book Ash becomes friends with Kaisa and eventually starts to feel something more. Other reviews have objected to the story off the premise alone, but its actually more about the friendship and bond that develops rather than romance. "She asked 'Will I die?' He replied 'Only a little.' " The fairy tale mythology and world building was not done well. So I found myself filling in gaps and trying to make connections to things that just weren't  there. I specifically read this book hoping to imagine non-white characters and explore some lgbqt issues, but everything was too subtle with little explanation in between. The writing was decent but the pacing was slow, so I kept reading more but even the final build up to the end was dissapointing.  I enjoy re-tellings when they are done well, but this one didn't take advantage of the concept or connect the original storyline in a very unique way. I did enjoy the strong female characters and that the step-mother and sisters were three dimensional characters instead of evil caricatures. This wasn't a bad book, if you enjoy a cute fantasy you could find this enjoyable. Unfortunately it wasn't something I would recommend.
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  • Steph
    October 10, 2011
    I just realized I had posted this review to my blog but not here! Well, here it is...LESBIANS! BEARS!* HUNTERS! OH MY! Please, someone inform the government. We have a retelling of Cinderella on our hands that includes lesbians. The world must be ending. It must be 2011. This is more terrifying than Y2k.Other reviews I’ve seen claim the problem with this book is the fact that our Cinderella is Bisexual. This is not the issue with this book and that sort of response makes me horribly depressed. W I just realized I had posted this review to my blog but not here! Well, here it is...LESBIANS! BEARS!* HUNTERS! OH MY! Please, someone inform the government. We have a retelling of Cinderella on our hands that includes lesbians. The world must be ending. It must be 2011. This is more terrifying than Y2k.Other reviews I’ve seen claim the problem with this book is the fact that our Cinderella is Bisexual. This is not the issue with this book and that sort of response makes me horribly depressed. We need more heroines like this. We need more heroines who aren’t heteronormative in YA. Maybe, just maybe, that young girl who is afraid to come out and tell people who she really is, will read this book and feel that’s it’s just a little less impossible. That sounds worth it, don’t you think?I truly applaud Malinda Lo for the idea she has presented here. For the modern Cinderella. May Belle, Aurora, Snow White and others go down the same path. However, I wish I could end this review here with this praise, but I cannot. We must go forward.This book had all of the potential in the world. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that it met the expectations I had upon picking it up. I enjoyed the beginning, where we learned of Ash’s tragic childhood, and all that she lost. As Ash grew older and began her interactions with the fairy, I lost interest in the story. When Kaisa arrived, I was expecting a love story to rival that of Bennet and Darcy, but what I got was more along the lines of… well, some other boring couple who lacked passion and chemistry, so much so that I have forgotten them.Perhaps I felt disconnected from Ash’s relationship with Kaisa because she does not enter the story until the second half of the book. Once she does appear in the story, my interest did increase, but not enough to save this novel for me. Their relationship progressed quickly and seemingly without much development. I never felt that Kaisa and Ash’s relationship was given the time to shine or develop. I wanted to root for them so badly, but I just couldn’t see it. When I closed the book, I closed it feeling detached and unaffected, which is something I hate to feel in response to literature. When I feel it, it’s with regret.*There were no bears in this book. That was a lie too.
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  • Rian
    June 5, 2010
    Ugh. I don't know if I'm just approaching this book wrong or what, but I've picked it up and started it three separate times, and each time I put it down before 50 pages. I really wanted to give it a chance, and after reading some rave reviews and finding out it was an LGBTQ version of Cinderella, my interest was piqued. Maybe Lo's writing gets better as the book goes on, but the first chapters drag interminably on, her characters are two dimensional and uninteresting, and the plot is horribly c Ugh. I don't know if I'm just approaching this book wrong or what, but I've picked it up and started it three separate times, and each time I put it down before 50 pages. I really wanted to give it a chance, and after reading some rave reviews and finding out it was an LGBTQ version of Cinderella, my interest was piqued. Maybe Lo's writing gets better as the book goes on, but the first chapters drag interminably on, her characters are two dimensional and uninteresting, and the plot is horribly contrived (yes, obviously, it's a fairly tale and the plot is going to go a certain way; but that doesn't mean it has to plod along like it's only moving towards the next plot point because it's supposed to go that way). The prose itself is weak. Some reviewers find Lo's worldbuilding enchanting, and I will grant that I was intrigued by the world Ash lived in (more than Ash herself); the passages describing how the scholars came to have precedence over the greenwitches was very interesting, and I was hoping there would be more conflict in that arena as time went on. But it wasn't enough to draw me in when I was stuck following the uninteresting Ash around. And then, of course, the interminable walls of text--5 or 6 full length paragraphs to every line of dialogue. Maybe I've just got a short attention span, or have been reading too many Victorian novels, but I can't get behind that ratio. Ultimately, the failing lies most in Ash herself. She is flat, boring, quiet. She rarely speaks, and when she does, it's to acquiesce to her father or make irrelevant commentary. There were dozens of opportunities for character-developing dialogue that Lo missed, whether because she had to cut out words to meet an editor's word count, or because she did not write them to begin with. In the first fifty pages, when I should have had a fairly accurate idea of what Ash was like (especially for such a slim book), I was left with a vague notion that she was dreamy, quiet, and spineless. She has no goals, no dreams for her life, no desire to grow up or change--and not even a conscious desire to not grow up, it's simply that she has no real ideas for her life in mind at all. She's young, yes, but even at 11 or 12, you might have some grandiose idea of growing up to be Queen or joining the Fairy Hunt or becoming the best greenwitch Rook Hill had ever seen. I felt like I was being constantly told about her, rather than experiencing things right along with her. Still, I'd be interested to see what Malinda Lo churns out next, as her premise was very interesting and the prose had potential, if she added in more dialogue and less description. If I wanted to read paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of narration, I'd just pick up Tolkien. I'd recommend this book for very young girls--10 or 11, perhaps--with a good attention span (unlike mine, obviously); but if you're looking for an interesting retelling of Cinderella, you might as well just pick up Ella Enchanted.
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  • Sharon
    April 17, 2010
    When I give a book this low of a rating I feel the need to explain why. Ash is a retelling of the Cinderella story with added fairies and bisexuality, although the bisexuality is fairly understated. Basically Ash is treated badly by her step mother and two step sisters. She often goes for walks in the woods, where sometimes she meets a fairy(male) and sometimes a huntress. She has pretty dull encounters with both although we are supposed to get a sense of her being torn between them, I think. I When I give a book this low of a rating I feel the need to explain why. Ash is a retelling of the Cinderella story with added fairies and bisexuality, although the bisexuality is fairly understated. Basically Ash is treated badly by her step mother and two step sisters. She often goes for walks in the woods, where sometimes she meets a fairy(male) and sometimes a huntress. She has pretty dull encounters with both although we are supposed to get a sense of her being torn between them, I think. I didn't, although at least I was cued by some fairly heavy hints that I was supposed toEventually we learn that Ash's mother long ago put a spell on the fairy that would one day cause him to love a human and have his heart broken in the same way he had caused many humans to love him and have their hearts broken. She did not expect that human to be her own daughter. Ash, decides to ask the fairy for help in going to the ball, a nice dress, a coach etc.and although the fairy tells her that it will cost her pretty much everything, Ash is OK with that, so I can only assume she is as dumb as a brick.Eventually the fairy comes to take Ash to fairy land with him as the price of the magical intervention, but at this stage she has figured he loves her so she decides to use that love against him by making him let her break her promise. He agrees but insists she spends a night with him in fairyland, where time does not act the same as in our world. You might think there might be some hint as to what goes on during this night of a thousand years, but there is none, nothing. She wakes up in the morning and without a comment yay, or nay, about the fairy, she goes off to live with her one true love, the huntress, and I assume they will have many dull years together, only talking in terribly stilted ways about really dull things.My God, such a dreary bunch of characters. The writing is quite nice in places but the story is like some slow motion retelling of a evening spent watching Grandma sleeping after dinner. There's quite simply no drama here. Even Ash's ending up with the huntress. So what! Who's stopping her? The huntress fancied her from the beginning. The world of Ash seems to accept female/female couplings as perfectly fine.One added point of extra super irritation.Ash at one stage shows up at a hunt on a fairy supplied wonder horse. The huntress is not surprised. She does not say "Wow! Ash, where'd you get the magic horsey? Aren't you a lowly servant?" Nope, she has nothing to say about that. I just find that weird.
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  • Cait (Paper Fury)
    March 23, 2014
    This is a BEAUTIFUL book and I liked it a lot! I just felt it wasn't so much a retelling as the plain-normal-story of Cinderella. Which is a little disappointing. I adore retellings, but I like it when they're spunky and unique and take the old tales and absolutely twist it. At least 2/3 of this book was what you'd read in the original fairy tale. The ending though? OH WOW THE ENDING IS BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT. I loved it! I loved the faerie vibe and the magic and the dangerous lure o This is a BEAUTIFUL book and I liked it a lot! I just felt it wasn't so much a retelling as the plain-normal-story of Cinderella. Which is a little disappointing. I adore retellings, but I like it when they're spunky and unique and take the old tales and absolutely twist it. At least 2/3 of this book was what you'd read in the original fairy tale. The ending though? OH WOW THE ENDING IS BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT. I loved it! I loved the faerie vibe and the magic and the dangerous lure of making un-pay-able debts for wishes. That always terrifies me. I was sure we were going to have a Supernatural moment here with selling souls and then getting thrown in dark pits or something. BUT IT'S OKAY! It has a glorious ending that I would rather like to hug.I also appreciated that FINALLY it's a retelling/magical/epic story that has queer characters. The fact that Ash was queer wasn't the point of the book. It was just part of it. Yes and please and thank you. I'm tired of books where a character's only interesting fact is that they're queer. That's who you are, it's not everything about you! Books about straight people aren't 100% focused on their straightness, right? I did have trouble with the style. It's really "they did this and then went there" and there's a lot of telling and not showing. It felt magical and the writing was pretty, but I didn't feel very engaged. I felt like I was just gliding over the top of a fairy-tale I've read a million times. I wanted more dialogue, especially between the Huntress and Ash.AND I ALSO HATE THE STEP MOTHER LIKE A LOT. SHE REMINDED ME OF THE ONE FROM EVER AFTER THE MOVIE. ARGHHH. Meanie. Stahp or I shall scream.It's a beautiful fairy tale but not original enough for me.
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  • Julie
    October 13, 2014
    2.5 stars. I really struggled with the first 25 pages or so, then eventually got into a groove so it went faster, but my enjoyment unfortunately never went much higher than that. I wanted to like this one so much more than I did!The problem: As my friend Emily has so astutely pointed out, Lo very very accurately mimics the sound & voice of fairytales. This can be a good thing! It reads as genuinely matter-of-factly ethereal, without delving into the occasionally purple prose of Catherynne Va 2.5 stars. I really struggled with the first 25 pages or so, then eventually got into a groove so it went faster, but my enjoyment unfortunately never went much higher than that. I wanted to like this one so much more than I did!The problem: As my friend Emily has so astutely pointed out, Lo very very accurately mimics the sound & voice of fairytales. This can be a good thing! It reads as genuinely matter-of-factly ethereal, without delving into the occasionally purple prose of Catherynne Valentine. The problem with that, though, is that most fairytales are short stories or novelettes/novellas at most -- not full novels. Because fairytale characters are flat ciphers at their core, shallow threads of characterisation that exist to move through the plot and little else. Whereas in a novel, I need to get attached to a character, I need to have a good idea of them as a person.So while reading this, I found myself missing Ella Enchanted as a Cinderella reworking that makes my heart do sympathetic somersaults for the ship. I found myself missing Franny Billingsley's Chime and The Folk Keeper because of how her female protagonists burst right off the page with character and voice and motivations, while I couldn't tell you much about Ash at all. (In fact, I might go reread The Folk Keeper now for a 3rd time...) I even missed Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister because of how it overturned and reworked the fairytale. Hell, I even missed Cinder, because Linh Cinder was a much more proactive, forceful personality than Ash -- who quite literally spends most of the book falling asleep and dreaming.It also doesn't help that the dialogue is stilted because it's got that affected, unrealistic fairytale feel to it; again, totally fine in a shorter format, but not in a novel.I was so excited for a F/F Cinderella, but the relationship took way too long to develop, with little payoff at the end -- the arc of the courtship just wasn't very tense or exciting, more of a lifeless plod. The final conclusion re: the fairy godfather is too neat and quick. In fact, the whole book has a lack of conflict beyond Ash's increasingly awful living conditions with her stepmother.The worldbuilding is interesting, though, and Lo's prose is good. I'd be interested to read something where she doesn't so explicitly mimic the fairytale voice, and I'm happy to have more femmeslash diversity represented (plus I'm especially excited to read Adaptation, because bisexual representation is like spotting a rare unicorn in the wild). I'm more than willing to give Lo continued chances, especially since this is her debut.
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  • Ceilidh
    June 3, 2011
    This is actually a reread for me. I received my own shiny cover of “Ash” as a gift from a lovely friend and was heartily looking forward to seeing how well it stood up the second time round. Most commonly referred to as the ‘lesbian Cinderella’, the book does retain the basic structure of arguably the most famous fairytale of all time whilst weaving in its own world, one where magic has been forgotten and viewed as a simple child’s tale by many. Stories and the telling of them make up a huge par This is actually a reread for me. I received my own shiny cover of “Ash” as a gift from a lovely friend and was heartily looking forward to seeing how well it stood up the second time round. Most commonly referred to as the ‘lesbian Cinderella’, the book does retain the basic structure of arguably the most famous fairytale of all time whilst weaving in its own world, one where magic has been forgotten and viewed as a simple child’s tale by many. Stories and the telling of them make up a huge part of the narrative, which may divide readers since, while they’re beautifully crafted, they bring the pacing to a grinding halt. The prose is well crafted, the retelling of the iconic fairytale is interesting and the relationship between Ash and Kaisa is definitely the highlight. However, there was something a little off about “Ash” upon its rereading. Maybe I was just less blinded by my love of Ash and Kaisa’s relationship and therefore the novel’s flaws were more noticeable. Whatever the case, the novel, while still enjoyable and well written, fell a little flat this time round. The magic element added an interesting twist to the mythology, but I found it rather two dimensional that everyone who doesn’t believe in the ‘old ways’ is either incredibly ignorant or extremely cruel, like Ash’s stepmother, one of the book’s other main failings. The evil stepmother trope seems like a tale as old as time and Lo had a great opportunity to bust the cliché or perhaps expand upon it to give it more dimensions. Instead, Lady Isobel falls flat and offers nothing new as an antagonist. She’s predictable cruelty and it’s rather dull. As much as I loved Ash and Kaisa’s relationship – they grew over time, had a sweet and awkward chemistry and it was refreshing to see the girl in the Cinderella role break out of her mould of passivity – it seems as if the development of the novel’s male characters was completely forgotten about. Sidhean felt more like a plot device who is shoved to the side once his story is dealt with (although I found the use and exchange of magic for help an interesting take on old fairy mythos) and the prince is just sort of there. On the positive side, Ash is allowed to develop and grow as a woman independent of a love interest’s involvement. As someone who is so bloody sick of the “Love saves the girl/day” trope, it was a welcome change. Not that Ash doesn’t make a few stupid decisions, she definitely does. Some left me scratching my head. I appreciated that LGBTQ romance was not taboo in this world.After finishing “Ash” for the second time, I couldn’t help but feel that the tale seemed rather lacklustre upon rereading. The framework is still strong and prose very lyrical, but the execution seems weaker upon further analysis. I still recommend the book, although now with some reservations. There’s definite potential for Lo to build upon the world she has created, and I have been told this is exactly what she does with the companion novel “Huntress”, which I eagerly look forward to reading.3/5.
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  • Cath
    August 30, 2015
    4/5 stars.I ended up enjoying this! I recently read Huntress by Malinda Lo, which is set a few hundred years before Ash. But you don't need to read Huntress to read this and vice versa. It took me about seventy pages to actually start enjoying this, I knew something was going to happen but I didn't know what.I was really surprised with how much I ended up liking this, I felt like putting the book down at one point but I kept on reading and really enjoyed it. I liked that Ash went through a bit o 4/5 stars.I ended up enjoying this! I recently read Huntress by Malinda Lo, which is set a few hundred years before Ash. But you don't need to read Huntress to read this and vice versa. It took me about seventy pages to actually start enjoying this, I knew something was going to happen but I didn't know what.I was really surprised with how much I ended up liking this, I felt like putting the book down at one point but I kept on reading and really enjoyed it. I liked that Ash went through a bit of character development, Ash ages up quite a few years in this book. We meet her as a child then the main story happens when she's about 16. I liked the whole Fairy element to the story, like in Huntress you don't really know that much about them, which I like.The lgbt+ element of the story was great! I like that it's not the main focus of the story. I was slightly confused with a few things in this book but that's probably because I skimmed a few pages here and there haha
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  • Cyna
    May 3, 2014
    Well that was a breath of fresh air. I think…I think I actually enjoyed reading this book.BRING FORTH THE LIST, in which SPOILERS are present. Mostly in the part about the ending.Ash What is this, a main character I don’t want to punch? OH MY GOD, FETCH THE PHOTOGRAPHERS, THIS MOMENT MUST BE COMMEMORATED. Seriously though, I actually really liked Ash. She was real. Multifaceted. Capable of being more than one thing at any given time. Also she had an arc, you guys. A real-live arc, where she chan Well that was a breath of fresh air. I think…I think I actually enjoyed reading this book.BRING FORTH THE LIST, in which SPOILERS are present. Mostly in the part about the ending.Ash What is this, a main character I don’t want to punch? OH MY GOD, FETCH THE PHOTOGRAPHERS, THIS MOMENT MUST BE COMMEMORATED. Seriously though, I actually really liked Ash. She was real. Multifaceted. Capable of being more than one thing at any given time. Also she had an arc, you guys. A real-live arc, where she changed and made mistakes and got called out on shit and learned more about herself. YES. THIS. WOULD LIKE MORE OF THIS. A+ In fact, this book is kinda entirely arc-based. The conflicts and resolutions revolve more than usual around Ash’s evolving understanding of herself and her relationships with other people, which is kind of a mixed bag in terms of execution, but I’ll get to that later. For now: yay, Ash. Even when I didn’t agree with what you were doing, I generally understood why you were doing it.So Many Ladies Yessss, there were so many ladies in this book. So many ladies, in such varying shades, which is really the important part. The women of Ash come in so many flavors – they are kind and cruel and loving and negligent, cheerful and sullen and quiet and smart, in differing degrees, and sometimes – gasp – all of those things. Some are allies, some are indifferent, and some are outright adversarial, but that is all okay, and you know why? Because there are so goddamn many of them. There isn’t just one or two ways to be a woman in Ash. There are dozens. It worked out pretty well, reading Ash immediately after Cinder, because the former answered a question the latter had left me pondering: is it fair to call a Cinderella retelling out on heinous Alpha Bitch syndrome? Because I mean, the evil stepsisters and evil stepmother are key components to the conflict in a Cinderella tale, and the role that they play is a large part of what makes a Cinderella story identifiable. Is it even possible to incorporate that element (with Cinderella as hero), without actively condoning that kind of harmful characterization? Is it possible to create a truly girl-positive adaptation of the classic Cinderella story? Turns out, YEP. You totally can, and it’s not even hard. You just have to write characters who are human beings. So our Cinderella still has two step-sisters. One is cruel, one is kinder, but they are both treated like people who exist beyond their given role of making Ash’s life miserable. They have their own goals and problems, triumphs and miseries, and the most important part is that Ash both recognizes and acknowledges this. So we can still have a sister who is mostly mean to Ash and takes advantage of her position and does incredibly unkind, petty things, but we are also shown that same girl when she is scared, when she is love-struck, when she is anxious about her future. She is more than just a caricature reduced to her simplest, most unflattering characteristic. The point is, I feel like Malinda Lo is putting a lot more confidence in her readers. She is trusting us to be able to simultaneously root for Ash and have empathy for her tormenters. She’s trusting and encouraging us not to hate other female characters just because they’re there, or we “should”, or they want the same thing as our protagonist, or a different thing, or are standing in our protagonist’s way. Woman does not automatically equal enemy in Ash the way it does in so many other books. I feel like Ash is saying, “Hey, maybe we should all just be kinder to one another because shit sucks and internalized misogyny doesn’t help anyone.” OR AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT I GOT OUT OF IT. Bonus: Ash puts a shitton of emphasis on the relationship between Ash and her mother and Ash’s battle to get over her death, and that is fucking awesome, because mother-daughter relationships in YA, where u at?Also, There was Romance …and it was yet another aspect that I enjoyed, which is probably a good thing, since the second half of the book is devoted almost exclusively to developing it. But yeah, it really worked for me. I’ve read complaints that there was too little of Kaisa and half the book wasn’t enough to develop her relationship with Ash, and while I, too, wish Kaisa had been in the book longer, I’m completely satisfied with the way their relationship played out. The problem I run in to most often with romantic relationships in paranormal whatnot is that they’re very often reliant on destiny and insta!love to bring and keep a couple together, and I’m always like, “OH MY GOD, what are you kids thinking?!? You literally just met like two sentences ago!” But with Ash, there’s a real feeling of time here – time and progression. Kaisa and Ash are initially attracted to one another, yes – even though Ash, at least, doesn’t immediately realize it – but they spend time together after that, specifically for the purpose of getting to know one another. It just works so much better for me, because I can legitimately buy the bond that they form and the attachment that they begin to feel to one another. It probably helps that I sort of loved Kaisa, possibly more than I liked Ash? She’s endlessly patient and compassionate, charming and kind – a YA love interest, kind! WHAT A NOVEL IDEA, RIGHT. Anyway, she doesn’t play games, she’s up front about all of her intentions, but doesn’t push or press or guilt, and she’s in no way ashamed of Ash or their love. She’s just an all-around solid LI. Bonus: the book doesn’t rely on snark to communicate attraction, and my god that was refreshing. I mean, I’m down with snarky love as much as the next person, but seriously, there is more than one way for couples to interact.Sidhean This dude was criminally under-developed. Am I supposed to have cared about Sidhean? Because I didn’t. I would have liked to. I would have liked to have known more about him, to feel like he was actually some sort of character, rather than a pretty mannequin who just followed Ash around. I think that would have given Ash’s emotional conflict more weight. But fuck, maybe that’s the point. Maybe Sidhean is just supposed to be some pretty, inscrutable symbol who doesn’t really matter beyond his symbolic significance to Ash. Wait, did Malinda Lo just write a dude the way most dudes write women?Fairytales & World-Building I actually find these two aspects of the story to be simultaneously two of the strongest and weakest elements of the story. WORLD-BUILDING. IT'S HARD. Nobody likes exposition, so how do you communicate the history and culture of your setting, relevant to the plot and characters, without awkwardly staging a long series of boring info-dumps that will put your readers to sleep? Well, if you’re Malinda Lo writing Ash, you use fairytales...Complete review at You're Killing.Us
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  • Elena
    January 6, 2011
    I noticed a lot of buzz surrounding this book among authors and readers I respect, so I had high expectations going in. I was disappointed. I found the book very bland, from beginning to end. All of the characters seemed very wooden and/or one-dimensional, and I pretty much just kept reading because it was inoffensive and short.Part of the reason I think I didn't take to this book is that it's a very meandering, quiet sort of story about death and love. There's not really any action to speak of, I noticed a lot of buzz surrounding this book among authors and readers I respect, so I had high expectations going in. I was disappointed. I found the book very bland, from beginning to end. All of the characters seemed very wooden and/or one-dimensional, and I pretty much just kept reading because it was inoffensive and short.Part of the reason I think I didn't take to this book is that it's a very meandering, quiet sort of story about death and love. There's not really any action to speak of, and the story is pretty simplistic and straightforward, with no twists (unless you weren't expecting the lesbianism, I suppose). If you like that sort of book, you might like this one. I'm interested in action, adventure, witty dialogue, and romance in my fiction. This book supplied a rather uninspiring dose of romance, but the rest was definitely absent.The thing that weighs my opinion of the book down from a "meh, bland but okay" three stars to a "not recommended" two stars is that Ash makes an inexplicably stupid decision in what seems to me to be just a way to get the characters from point A to point B in the plot, and it jolted me out of the story altogether.(view spoiler)[FAERIE: Care to make a wish?ASH: Well, I have read a lot of faerie tales, and I know that there are always really horrible strings attached to accepting wishes from faeries, but okay! I wish I could go on a date without my family knowing. What'll that cost me?FAERIE: You will be mine forever.ASH: Oh, is that all? Make this date happen!Me: ?! Did you seriously just promise eternity to a faerie in exchange for an awkward first date? Seriously? (hide spoiler)]So, yes. If you like quiet, unassuming stories and don't require too much depth to your characters (like faerie tales!), you might enjoy Ash. Bonus points (2.5 stars, maybe?) for lesbian characters that don't feel the need to jump up and down saying, "I'M A LESBIAN, LET ME ANGST ABOUT IT TO YOU."
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  • Steph Su
    April 29, 2009
    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 co 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 pas 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.
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  • Nikki
    April 25, 2010
    This is a lovely retelling of the Cinderella fairytale. It keeps a very fairytale-like tone, so at times it doesn't go as deeply into what happens or people's feelings as I would like, but there are beautiful descriptions and it's very easy to read. It's exciting to read a version of the story in which part of the love story is between two women. I liked the changes to the story as I knew it -- Sidhean as the fairy godmother, and the element of actually having to pay for what you get from the fa This is a lovely retelling of the Cinderella fairytale. It keeps a very fairytale-like tone, so at times it doesn't go as deeply into what happens or people's feelings as I would like, but there are beautiful descriptions and it's very easy to read. It's exciting to read a version of the story in which part of the love story is between two women. I liked the changes to the story as I knew it -- Sidhean as the fairy godmother, and the element of actually having to pay for what you get from the fairies. I loved that the prince wasn't all that important. I liked that the young stepsister, Clara, is kind of likeable. I wish the story spent more time on the love story, on really making the reader feel it -- both the strange attraction between Aisling and Sidhean, and the relationship between Aisling and Kaisa. I think this book would have really bowled me over if it had been like that.As it is, it's fun, and often lovely.Later edit: So, the homophobic reviews of this book irritate the hell out of me, and upset me, too. I think it's important that people write books like this, taking back traditionally heterosexual stories and finding places for ourselves within them.
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  • CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
    June 28, 2012
    I really wanted to love this book, but didn't. The atmosphere / setting was kind of interesting, but otherwise the characters were flat, the tension / stakes non-existent, and the plot predictable. The audiobook version, read by the author, was also lackluster. Really, a good audiobook needs a voice actor, that's all there is to it.You know what? It kind of feels like this is queer YA written for straight readers, because the fact that it's two girls getting together in the end is like the only I really wanted to love this book, but didn't. The atmosphere / setting was kind of interesting, but otherwise the characters were flat, the tension / stakes non-existent, and the plot predictable. The audiobook version, read by the author, was also lackluster. Really, a good audiobook needs a voice actor, that's all there is to it.You know what? It kind of feels like this is queer YA written for straight readers, because the fact that it's two girls getting together in the end is like the only interesting thing about this book, and I admit would be quite the twist for readers not expecting it. So I guess I might give it a half star more, if only for the ha-ha straight people, we're everywhere, sneaking into books where you least expect us, get used to it factor.
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  • Lola Reviewer
    December 6, 2016
    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 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.Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • Amanda
    December 31, 2014
    i love fairy tale rellings. i love fairy tale retellings that take chances even more. the f/f relationship featured in this story has become one of my absolute favorites; i felt it slowly building, building, building until it exploded into something soft, beautiful, and satisfying. such lovely, lush storytelling. <333 i am in awe. <333333
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  • Jananee (headinherbooks)
    January 5, 2017
    This retelling of the classic Cinderella fairytale had some hits and some misses. Whilst I adored the romance between Ash and Kaisa and the Fae elements that Malinda Lo brought in, the beginning of the book was incredibly slow to get into and the plot was quick lacking. The tone of the book felt very similar to the original fairytale and I think the book would have benefited from distinguishing itself a bit. Also, the romance really only appears in the last third of this book and I wish more tim This retelling of the classic Cinderella fairytale had some hits and some misses. Whilst I adored the romance between Ash and Kaisa and the Fae elements that Malinda Lo brought in, the beginning of the book was incredibly slow to get into and the plot was quick lacking. The tone of the book felt very similar to the original fairytale and I think the book would have benefited from distinguishing itself a bit. Also, the romance really only appears in the last third of this book and I wish more time was spent on it because both Ash and Kaisa have such wonderful personalities that could have been explored much further. Overall, where the book lacked in plot and differentiating itself from the original tale, it was salvaged by the strong relationship between the two lead female characters.
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  • Chris
    March 28, 2012
    Most likely, "Cinderella" is the most well known and popular fairy tale in the world. Partically, every culture has a version. There are even less well known version such as 'Donkeyskin". The idea of being transformed, of one's true worth being recognized is seductive and a time honored tradition. We even it use in sports. When a writer decided to tackle and/or retell the story of Cinderella, he or she confronts not only Dinsey's blonde mouse friend but all the baggage that comes with Cinderella Most likely, "Cinderella" is the most well known and popular fairy tale in the world. Partically, every culture has a version. There are even less well known version such as 'Donkeyskin". The idea of being transformed, of one's true worth being recognized is seductive and a time honored tradition. We even it use in sports. When a writer decided to tackle and/or retell the story of Cinderella, he or she confronts not only Dinsey's blonde mouse friend but all the baggage that comes with Cinderella, all the baggage that every member of society has about it. This explains why there are so many "bad" or just "okay" versions. Lo's novel is risky not only because of the Cinderella connection but also because of the twist that Lo gives it. While Lo's Cinderella isn't flawless, it is worthy of being remembered.The problems of the novel are the ones that in some ways are too common in Cinderella stories - the character of the stepmother and stepsisters, and at some point it seems as if Ash almost deserves the treatment she gets. While Cinderella is always, in some way, a story about a daughter's grief for a dead mother, Ash takes it a bit far by sleeping on her mother's grave and not the usually tending that Cinderella figures do. (BTW, I liked the update on her name. I've had to explain what Cinders are once too often. THe name Ash, short for Ashling, is a good and understandable nod to the Cinderella name).The thing is that Ash learns over the course of the novel. She grows. And while it is true that a few points a reader will wonder why Ash of all people, but the ending makes it up for that because of who Ash becomes. In truth, the ending brings the book up to four stars.And I sorta liked the twist, which made far more sense than Disney's prince who needs a shoe test.
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  • Caroline
    June 26, 2010
    I whole-heartedly love this book. If you haven't read it, don't read my review and go buy it. I hadn't read anything about this book when I bought it and I think it made a difference when I did because I had no idea how the retelling part would work out and what would change from the original story. I will divide this review in two parts, one for the people who haven't read it, and a second part with spoilers. Don't read the spoilers if you want to read this book. Seriously. By the way don't you I whole-heartedly love this book. If you haven't read it, don't read my review and go buy it. I hadn't read anything about this book when I bought it and I think it made a difference when I did because I had no idea how the retelling part would work out and what would change from the original story. I will divide this review in two parts, one for the people who haven't read it, and a second part with spoilers. Don't read the spoilers if you want to read this book. Seriously. By the way don't you love my Spoiler Alert Bat ? *I LOVE it !*I like all the characters, they are all very well described and faithful to the spirit of the original tale. And I say spirit because they are not entirely similar to the original story. Ash is much tougher than in the original version for instance, she is much more linked to the fairy world and that is very interesting. I find the stepmother very mean but - not that I excuse her attitude towards Ash - has her reasons to and it looks much more credible. It is the same for the two daughters.I love Malinda Lo's take on fairies in the story. In the original version, there is a fairy godmother, but nothing much is said about that. Whereas in Ash, the whole fairy theme is fully explored and used in this story. I also like the part where Ash doesn't receive the magic, she trades it and I find it to be very interesting to see her make that choice. I also like the fairy tales and legends that are told in the book. I really loved how it was linked to nature and tradition. I grew up in a small village, and everyone knows the old sayings and beliefs. And I also like how the story is centred around nature, and I feel that Malinda Lo really gave the book this feeling of nature being more than just leaves and eath and something which ought to be respected. Now for the romance, I absolutely love Malinda Lo's take on the fairy tale. The love story doesn't come as the poor girl falling in love with the rich and handsome prince. In this version Ash has a real active part in the relation and the love comes from mutual respect and admiration. You see Ash grow up because of the situations in her life, but also when she realises her feelings. The writing is absolutely beautiful and you fall in this story right at the beginning. FYI: why the name 'Ash'I don't know if people actually wonder why on earth Malinda Lo called the book Ash but I will explain anyway: Cinderella is a fairy tale that has many origins, but has been made famous by the 1600s version of French writer Charles Perrault. The original name in French is Cendrillon, of which Cinderella is a simplistic translation. In the German version though, the Grimm brothers called the character Aschenputtel or Aschenbrödel which contains the word Ash. The first part of the word (Cendre) means ash and the second comes from souillon which means dirty/soiled. There are at least two reason why the character has a name related to ash. First because in the original tale, when Cinderella has finished her chores, she goes to sleep on ash (so she is always full of ash herself and was nicknamed Cendrillon). And second, ash has always been a symbol of humiliation and punishment. I am advising this book to everyone really, this is such a beautiful story. *awww look at me getting all sentimental*Do not read further if you don't want to be spoiled !Yeah, I can see you still reading here ! Last chance not to.I couldn't bring myself not to talk about this subject, but I still wanted people who don't like spoilers to discover the interesting twist to Cinderella in Ash. And this is actually the same reason why I have labelled this post "LGBT" and linking it to my LGBT Challenge 2010.Intrigued, are you ?I personally didn't know about Ash being "the retelling of Cinderella with a lesbian twist" when I started reading the book, and I am so happy I didn't because I was so pleasantly surprised by what followed.Ash, after so many horrible years spent serving her cruel stepmother, finds a reason to love again. This reason is Kaisa, the King's huntress. Their love starts as a mutual profound respect and admiration for each other, which evolves in something more. I cannot possibly express how much this is a very important twist and how beautifully written it is. Some newspaper critics were harsh on Malinda Lo for that but I disagree.I personally believe that the essence of Cinderella is for a girl, who lives in the most despicable conditions, to be looked at for who she is and not what she was made to become. And that her kindness of heart and qualities are so powerful that they are seen by whom has his/her eyes open. It made me remember this classic sentence from Jane Eyre "Beauty is in the eye of the gazer". The character of Kaisa is such a good person that she sees beauty where it doesn't seem to be. And this is for me the most important quality for someone ever deserving of Ash's love.Cinderella isn't about a poor girl being married to a prince. And no matter what people say, I was thrilled, while reading, that Ash wouldn't fall in love for a person who had the most power, respect and wealth, but rather to the person who could see and understand her.
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  • Christina Marie
    February 1, 2017
    THIS WAS THE CUTEST STORY! I love how unique it was, especially when it came to the retelling. I caught so many feels in this books, but it also pissed me off because of the evil stepmother and her daughters. I am so glad this was a story that was recommended. There is a beautiful aspect to the story that is the perfect touch. It doesn't dominate the story, but without it, the book wouldn't be as heartfelt and lovely.
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  • Enqi ✨ (High Lady of the Night Court)
    August 28, 2016
    This was a beautiful retelling, and I loved the LGBT+ twist, but I thought the relationship(s) could have been more fleshed out. I was also rather bummed by the fact that this book literally follows the original tale scene for scene, and I like retellings with a little uniqueness included in their storyline. The epiphany that our heroine has also seems rather rushed and sudden, and I’d have preferred a slow buildup. Plus points to Malinda Lo for writing a queer heroine so well though. Ash was a This was a beautiful retelling, and I loved the LGBT+ twist, but I thought the relationship(s) could have been more fleshed out. I was also rather bummed by the fact that this book literally follows the original tale scene for scene, and I like retellings with a little uniqueness included in their storyline. The epiphany that our heroine has also seems rather rushed and sudden, and I’d have preferred a slow buildup. Plus points to Malinda Lo for writing a queer heroine so well though. Ash was a well-developed three-dimensional heroine, and her queerness clearly didn’t define her or who she was. This book disappointed me in some aspects, but it wasn’t a waste of my time or money. 3.5 stars in reality - a solid book. I wouldn’t mind reading more by this author.
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  • Maye
    February 17, 2017
    “Every time you come near me,” he said, “you come closer to the end of everything.”“It does not feel that way,” she said. “It feels like I am coming closer to the beginning.” Uggghh, this could've been so much more. The ending was cut too short. I'm so disappointed that I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. Sigh.Full review to come.
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  • Martini
    June 15, 2015
    Entertaining read, not outstanding, but also not uninspired. This would have led to 2.5 stars (= mediocre), but there was one fact that I really enjoyed: same-gender relationships are not depicted as something scandalous, a taboo or even something special, but as something utterly normal. Therefore rounded up to 3 stars.
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  • Amber
    September 20, 2016
    This is an excellent Cinderella retelling and exactly what I wanted from it.
  • Brittney
    October 30, 2016
    LIKES:-The lyrical writing gives the story a magical, fairytale-esque quality that drew me in.-Lo did a great job of sticking to the essence of the original Cinderella while still adding her own twist to it.-I loved Ash as a main character, the way she saw the world was both interesting and sad. She was the kind of character that you mourned with and rooted for.-The grief that Ash dealt with felt very genuine, and I liked that we were able to see her process it over years and not just over a few LIKES:-The lyrical writing gives the story a magical, fairytale-esque quality that drew me in.-Lo did a great job of sticking to the essence of the original Cinderella while still adding her own twist to it.-I loved Ash as a main character, the way she saw the world was both interesting and sad. She was the kind of character that you mourned with and rooted for.-The grief that Ash dealt with felt very genuine, and I liked that we were able to see her process it over years and not just over a few months. We were really able to see how the deaths of her parents affected her.-The slow burn f/f romance made me so happy and it blossomed into something sweet and beautiful.-The fairy aspect of this story was alluring and mysterious and brought a lot of tension to the story.DISLIKES:-There was an issue in the book that I felt was solved too quickly and easily. I wish we would have seen the struggle, or at least I wish the moment it was solved was fleshed out a bit more.Besides that small problem I had, I really loved this book, and I highly recommend it!
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  • Jamie (Books and Ladders)
    October 23, 2016
    This was so boring. That's all I have to say about it. I actually quite enjoyed the retelling but the pacing was so freaking slow and it made it so boring to me that I felt like I had to push myself through it. There were some hidden gems throughout this one and moments that I quite enjoyed but they were far and few between and definitely left me wanting more.I liked Ash as a character and thought that she was able to be strong and vulnerable without coming across as weak or unlikeable. I think This was so boring. That's all I have to say about it. I actually quite enjoyed the retelling but the pacing was so freaking slow and it made it so boring to me that I felt like I had to push myself through it. There were some hidden gems throughout this one and moments that I quite enjoyed but they were far and few between and definitely left me wanting more.I liked Ash as a character and thought that she was able to be strong and vulnerable without coming across as weak or unlikeable. I think she was good in this story but I'm not sure she could be easily transplanted into any other story. I am just not a super fan of how her characterization played out. I thought the ending was way too convenient and easily swept everything under the rug. I was hoping for a larger time jump, like the majority of the fairy tale stories where someone would visit the fae and be gone for years upon years. I think that would have been better.But I am so glad that there was a F/F relationship in this one and am glad that more retellings are beginning to include that. I am glad Ash chose the way she did and that she did so based on her feelings and being true to her heart. I think her relationship with the Huntress was well developed and cute but I didn't quite feel the spark until the very end. Probably when she has dinner with her in the tent. Then I was invested. The moments before that though were meh.I am not sure who I would recommend this to, to be honest. It is lacking on the fae aspect, but it has a solid retelling aspect, but it was SO BORING because of the pacing. So I guess you have to take the good with the bad.
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  • Glaiza
    November 30, 2015
    I find it incredibly difficult to talk about my favourite books but sometimes, I try. I always found Cinderella to be the most relatable of all my childhood heroines (not counting the prince) because she had to put energy into work that wasn't always related to her dreams. I used to pull out all of the different versions of Cinderella I could find in my school library. I'm glad this incarnation found me as an adult too."For in the depths of grief, sometimes one cannot tell the difference between I find it incredibly difficult to talk about my favourite books but sometimes, I try. I always found Cinderella to be the most relatable of all my childhood heroines (not counting the prince) because she had to put energy into work that wasn't always related to her dreams. I used to pull out all of the different versions of Cinderella I could find in my school library. I'm glad this incarnation found me as an adult too."For in the depths of grief, sometimes one cannot tell the difference between illusion and reality."Ash is a heroine I admire so much for her quiet fortitude and her persistence in pursuing what she yearns for. I've been incredibly lucky to find fantastical ethereal stories that are still about people who grieve and find their way back into the life.I loved the slow burn old school fairytale feel of Ash's story, which is also rooted in the reality of growing up with and without having hope while slowly building up resilience again.In terms of world-building, the fae fascinated me in this one. Ash's conversations with both the fae and the huntress shows how she finds people she can trust and lean on throughout different points in her life. Ash's exploration of possibilities and finding her own sense of self and belonging is my favourite part of this book. Even though Ash was first marketed as a lesbian fairytale retelling, her attraction to people regardless of their gender is also present. In our world, Ash can be read as bisexual and I am glad that she does find love in Kaisa, the huntress. I wish there had been a few more scenes of them getting to know each other but it's still a beautifully written arc. Also, in this fantasy world, same-sex attraction does not have any perceptual barriers/prejudices that our world sometimes creates.
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  • Airiz C
    July 24, 2011
    When her father died, Aisling’s—Ash’s—world is turned upside down. Her stepmother, Lady Isobel, is cruel to her, and her stepsisters are not exactly fond of her. Ash is forced to work as a servant for her stepfamily, and she could only hope for someone to take her away from her miserable life.Sounds familiar? It might, but this is not the fairytale you remember—it’s not the story of Disney’s ultimate damsel in distress who waits for Prince Charming to come by and hand her the happy-ever-after sh When her father died, Aisling’s—Ash’s—world is turned upside down. Her stepmother, Lady Isobel, is cruel to her, and her stepsisters are not exactly fond of her. Ash is forced to work as a servant for her stepfamily, and she could only hope for someone to take her away from her miserable life.Sounds familiar? It might, but this is not the fairytale you remember—it’s not the story of Disney’s ultimate damsel in distress who waits for Prince Charming to come by and hand her the happy-ever-after she longs for. In this retelling, instead of falling in love with a dashing prince, the dreamy, pretty orphan becomes smitten with the King’s feisty huntress, Kaisa.You read that right. It’s Cinderella with a lesbian twist.The strongest point of this book, for me, is the elegant unfolding of love between the two women and the society’s reaction (or lack thereof) to their budding relationship. The bottom line of the novel is not that the Cinderella figure is a lesbian, it is that no one cares that she is a lesbian. With that concept as a backbone, Malinda Lo managed to create this loose retelling sans the ‘coming out’ vibes that most LGBTQ titles possess. The coming-of-age part of the book molds Ash well into a believable character, but she’s not particularly a likable one. While Ash only raises herself a step from being a total ingénue, Kaisa is portrayed as a stronger and more mannish character that completes what Ash lacks. Oh, I forgot to mention that there’s a bizarre love triangle here, and you’ll be surprised who makes the third side of it: the fairy godmother figure from the original tale…except that this time he’s a cruel Fairy Prince cursed to love a human girl (I really love the gender-bending bits!). Characterization of the antagonists came off as a little ‘bedtime story’ conventional, and to me they feel a stage short of being inflated into fully-realized characters. But in fairness to Lo, she suggests that Ash’s older stepsister only forces herself to marry a wealthy man just to make themselves a kisby ring, not wanting to sink into poverty, given the existing social strata in their world.That takes us to the world-building—which is amazing. I love the complexities of Ash’s world, from the smallest fireside stories to the traditions of Rook Hill and the King’s City. Side by side, greenwitches and philosophers exist, a prevalent science vs. magic feel that helps shapes Lo’s universe. I also tremendously enjoyed the fables and myths that are deftly intertwined with the main story; they’re like gems embedded in a layer of less-precious stones. If they are invented by Lo, I’ll never know, but they sound authentic and they carry some shades of Brothers Grimm in them.This is a good book, but if you are a sucker for retellings that are fast-paced, gripping, and out of the ordinary, Ash may not be your cup of tea. There is a lot to like about this novel, but there is something about the narration that does not quite click with me. The descriptions are beautifully dreamy and lush, but they make the transitions from scene to scene a tad slow. Other than that, I think this is a nice treat for fable-lovers and for queer people. After all, gays need fairytales, too.My Rating: ★★★ 1/2___a little trivia: Cinderella comes from the name “cendrillon,” which literally means “little ashes,” so I think Lo’s choice for her protagonist’s (nick)name matches this. Some sources also say that the girl in Cinderella is originally named Ella and she is almost always covered in soot from cleaning. This is used by Lo as well, as for many times Ash sleeps by the hearth and ends up coated with ashes and soot when she wakes up.
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  • Kelly
    December 20, 2009
    I found the world building boring, and I felt the entire time like Lo was talking to me, rather than telling me a story (i.e., it felt like she didn't try to tell a story but instead just spit the facts out). The backstories were far too lengthy and unnecessary and the story itself gets lost. None of the characters are interesting, and Ash herself is just irritating. I disliked the writing style a lot, and I thought the lesbian love scene never had merit -- we don't actually see Ash learn anythi I found the world building boring, and I felt the entire time like Lo was talking to me, rather than telling me a story (i.e., it felt like she didn't try to tell a story but instead just spit the facts out). The backstories were far too lengthy and unnecessary and the story itself gets lost. None of the characters are interesting, and Ash herself is just irritating. I disliked the writing style a lot, and I thought the lesbian love scene never had merit -- we don't actually see Ash learn anything about love or relationships. She doesn't seem to build them; they just magically happened, and it didn't require her to keep them up for them to sustain themselves. In other words, there was a lot of weak character building and too much time spent on a world that is just a very confusing Cinderella (I never once could tell the differences in setting because, although much went into giving them a lot of weight, they were essentially all the same bland stage for a flat story). A big disappointment for me.
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  • Wealhtheow
    August 27, 2009
    Aisling lives on the edge of the Wood. Her mother knows and follows the old greenwitch ways; her father is a prosperous merchant who follows them only for her sake. Her mother dies, and both Ash and her father are overwhelmed with grief. Ash takes to spending long hours reading or sleeping on top of her mother's grave, while her father remarries. His new wife is a social climbing aristocrat who dismisses greenwitch wisdom, and so Ash's father dies of a treatable illness, and Ash is left to repay Aisling lives on the edge of the Wood. Her mother knows and follows the old greenwitch ways; her father is a prosperous merchant who follows them only for her sake. Her mother dies, and both Ash and her father are overwhelmed with grief. Ash takes to spending long hours reading or sleeping on top of her mother's grave, while her father remarries. His new wife is a social climbing aristocrat who dismisses greenwitch wisdom, and so Ash's father dies of a treatable illness, and Ash is left to repay his debts by working as an unpaid servant for her stepmother and sisters. As Ash grows rough-handed and dirty under her labors, she still has a window into beauty: an elf took notice of her long hours at her mother's grave, and visits her sometimes. When Ash's family moves to the capital so her stepsisters have a chance to marry well, Ash looks forward to these brushes with magic all the more. Parts of this I really liked and parts I was disappointed by. Ash's feelings and sensations in the presence of the elf who loves her and the huntswoman who might feel the same are well described. I could totally understand what she saw in each of them, and liked the way she was torn between the way the elf enveloped and overwhelmed her with his extreme generosity and otherworldly powers, and the more comfortable but less overwhelming companionship of the huntswoman. The magic was beautifully described. And I loved the way this retelling completely sidestepped aspects of the Cinderella story, for instance (view spoiler)[that her fairy godmother is basically a dude cursed to love her, her love interest is a hot chick, and the prince is totally unimportant to her. (hide spoiler)]On the other hand, the worldbuilding in this book felt really spotty and poorly thought out. I get that the Wood is magic, but Ash seemed to reach the edges of it (let alone the center) in hugely varying times. I don't get why it was traumatic to move away from the Wood if she could still walk to it in a matter of minutes. I never bought Ash as a servant. She seems to have loads of free time, no issue finding light to read by, and is totally uninterested and ignorant in all worldly matters. I find that completely unlikely given that her stepmother and sisters rely on her as their single servant and maintain a courtly lifestyle, which should require many more people. Just taking care of their gowns and hair properly should be a full-time job, let alone answering the door, cooking for everyone, cleaning the entire house, taking care of the horses...So not only does she have an absurd amount of free time to go wandering around or reading, she also doesn't have the mindset of a servant. She seems totally ignorant of all money matters, when she should be the one buying food in the market every day, etc. Money also seems inconsistently handled. The huntswoman and her entourage throw gold coins out every year, and these are described as thick and weighty, yet the next morning there are still some stuck in the pavement? There's no way. Ash never even looks into whether Ash's dad actually left debts behind, and whether she still owes her stepmother&sisters doesn't even seem to occur to her, whereas I'd have expected a great deal of thought and worry from her about being in wage-slavery. Lastly, I was annoyed at how little Ash actually does in this book. She spends most of her time reacting to other people and placidly doing what they tell her. At the very end (view spoiler)[she makes this big tragic deal about saying goodbye to the huntswoman before leaving her life behind to repay her debt to the elf...and then gets rid of the debt in like, a page, (hide spoiler)] in a way that left so little impression on me that I don't even remember it two days later? So anticlimactic!So. Inconsistently satisfying.
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