It is no secret that I love fairy tales. I especially like retellings of these tales, particularly when they have a twist. My latest read, Ash by Malinda Lo, is a retelling of Cinderella, and it definitely has a twist (many twists, in fact). I’ll get to the changes soon, but I must say that this story is beautifully written, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairy tales. Malinda Lo has crafted a timely version of the Cinderella story that is so haunting, so rich, and so vibrant that readers who take the time to truly appreciate the story will not be disappointed.
Ash seems to lose everything in the blink of an eye. First, her mother dies. A short time later, after remarrying suddenly, Ash’s father becomes sick and leaves Ash all alone. Her cruel stepmother forces Ash to become a servant in her own home, and Ash grieves for the life she once knew. Her only solace is in reading the fairy tales her mother passed on to her. Ash wonders if the fairies are real, and, if they are, will they take her away from her current life and the pain that comes with it?
Her answer comes in the form of Sidhean, a fairy who seems to have a strange connection to Ash. Ash wants Sidhean to take her with him to the realm of the fairies, but he resists and insists that she is not ready. Ready for what? Ash does not know, but she can feel Sidhean’s presence with her, and she knows that the time will come when he will claim her forever.
Everything changes, though, when Ash encounters Kaisa, the king’s huntress. The more time Ash spends with Kaisa, the less she focuses on Sidhean. She grows closer to the huntress and does whatever she can, including making wishes of fairies (which are never simple and always come with a price), to spend more time with Kaisa. Ash and Kaisa develop a friendship, which soon evolves into something that neither young woman was expecting.
When Ash realizes that her time with Sidhean grows closer–and her time with Kaisa comes to an end–she knows that she has a choice to make. Will she go with the fairy who has given her all that she has asked, or will she risk everything for the love she has always wanted? Read Ash to discover what happens when one young woman must decide between the fairy tale and true love.
Although I kind of knew what to expect when I began reading Ash, I was not prepared for the absolute beauty of the story. I was utterly captivated. It did not (and does not) matter to me that the Cinderella in this story did not want the handsome prince. She just wanted love. I think that’s all that anyone wants, and I applaud Malinda Lo for telling a story that will resonate with gay and straight readers alike. I look forward to reading Huntress, the prequel to Ash, and I know that it will be just as beautiful.
For more information on author Malinda Lo and her writing, visit http://www.malindalo.com/.