Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Ash" by Malinda Lo

Summary: In this retelling of "Cinderella," Ash grew up hearing stories of fairies from her mother.  When her mother dies and her father then dies shortly after remarrying, Ash is forced to move in with her mean stepmother and stepsisters back in the city.  Nevertheless, Ash still finds herself drawn to the Woods and the fairy Sidhean while also feeling connection to the King's Huntress, Kaisa.

Musings: I picked this book up on recommendation from Angela at Bookish Blather, and it was also a good book with which to begin the GLBT Challenge 2010 that I signed up for yesterday.

This Cinderella story is not just a feminist retelling, for it seeks to subvert the traditional role of romance in fairy tales.  In fact, the Prince plays little role in the story, and the relationships are instead centered between Sidhean and Kaisa.  When it comes time for Ash to make her choice, the choice is obvious.  Although there is attraction to Sidhean because of his power and and allure as a fairy, there is not love--just a feeling of being consumed.  With Kaisa there is respect and mutual acknowledgment, and it's great to see Ash take agency for whom she will love at the end of the novel.

I enjoyed the set-up of this story.  It borrowed from Cinderella without feeling weighed down by sticking too closely to the well-known story.  By taking the focus away from the Prince, Lo is able to give attention to the fairy world and the Huntress' world.

Nevertheless, I just couldn't get into the book.  It felt far too short to cover all that happens and to fully go into the world Lo has created.  The novel begins when Ash is twelve, and a hundred pages later, she is already eighteen.  It felt as though I was reading a summary of all that happened rather than an actual book. I wanted more of what Ash was thinking or how she was feeling.  The twelve-year-old Ash didn't seem much different than the eighteen-year-old.

Ash's relationship with Sidhean seemed to come suddenly, and I didn't fully understand the fairy world.  The descriptions of Sidhean also sounded so similar to the current typical descriptions of vampires that I found it hard to think of him otherwise.

The most compelling part of the novel is Ash's relationship with Kaisa, and I wish there had been more time spent on them.  (And by the way, what's with all these similar sounding names?  Hunger Games' Katniss, Graceling's Katsa, Ash's Kaisa)  Ash's ending with Sidhean didn't quite fit together with me, but I loved the way she came to Kaisa.

*** Whew!  This book qualifies for the TwentyTen Reading Challenge (Bad Bloggers category), the GLBT Reading Challenge 2010, and the POC Reading Challenge.


  1. I've heard from a lot of people that this just didn't work, which is sad. :/

  2. Good review. I loved the book although I agree that I wanted more time spent on Ash and Kaisa's relationship.

    you're right the names are so similar! The Kas trend :)

    Thanks for joining the POc Reading Challenge!

  3. I Really wanted Ash and Sidhean to get together because they seemed like such a wonderful couple to get together but I never really expected a sort of lesbian vibe in the book for Ash and Kaisa to get together but I think that the book was very cute to be honest

  4. yea, the book seemed like it was incomplete. i wanted there to be more details in Ash and Kaisa's relationship..maybe the second book Huntress will be better , i finished Ash in 2 days lol! but was a lil disappointed! still very cute story though! lol