Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ash by Malinda Lo

Title: Ash
Author: Malinda Lo
Publisher: Hachette Book Group/Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Pages: 264 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

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 beings 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 live--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.


Orphaned before she was even a teenager, Ash is no better than a slave in her stepmother's home, working to pay off the debt Lady Isobel believes she owes for being her father's daughter. Ever since she was a child growing up near the Wood, Ash has believed in fairy tales and stories the philosophers from another kingdom dismiss as nothing but follies. Upon venturing into the wood one night, Ash meets the fairy Sidhean and comes to develop a strange friendship with him that could become more. Her feelings only become more complicated after meeting Kaisa, the King's Huntress. One a fairy prince, one a beautiful huntress, both of them people Ash loves. Who should she choose?

Oh, how badly I needed this book to be good. My last book was a disaster and a half, so I ran to this in hopes it would cheer me up. Not to mention this lucky find in a used bookstore turned out to be signed by the author herself, which made me want the book to be wonderful even more. It didn't turn out as well and I'd hoped it would, but Ash was still a great retelling of the well-known Cinderella story.

Ash, Sidhean, Kaisa, and Ash's stepfamily all have the potential to be great characters, but their depths aren't explored deeply enough. I didn't have any real investment in the characters, and I didn't feel any true connections between the characters either. The romance of Ash and Kaisa was sweet, but I wasn't particularly attached to it or convinced by it.

Often, I wondered where the conflict was. Was the old vs. new theme also supposed to be the conflict of the book? There is no real plot, and Ash is not a strong enough character for the novel to be character-driven. Nevertheless, I kept turning the page in no small part due to the writing.

Ah, the writing. Sometimes, the narrative read as though a storyteller and I were sitting in front of a fire. The storyteller told me the story of Ash as I sat there basking in the fire's warmth, letting Ash's story come to mind and become more vivid with each word. Other times, it felt like nothing more than a story that overdosed on telling instead of showing. Some scenes like the hunt were vivid, but most of them failed to stick with me.

Speaking of the old vs. new theme, that had to be my favorite part of the book. Ash's choice to either cling to her old life (Sidhean) or embrace what was new and present (Kaisa), the conflict of the greenwitches and old ways with the philosophers and their new ways--above all else, this is what stayed with me. It may have been just a small piece of the story, but I still loved it. If you can be open-minded and not have a fit if a fairy tale retelling veers from the well-known tales, try Ash and see how you like it.

And a tip for readers? Always do research on a book you're considering or look at the copyright page at the very beginning of the book. After the small project I did on Goodreads reviews of Ash, I feel this is something everyone should keep in mind.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Watched by Sharde Richardson

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree. I really liked the things Ash could be, but it didn't quiiiiite get all the way there for me. I still enjoyed the story, however.


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