Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ash by Malinda Lo

Title: Ash
Author: Malinda Lo
Genre: YA (Fantasy/ GLBT)

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: September 1st 2009
Hardcover: 264 pages

Stand Alone or series: stand alone

Summary: (from Goodreads)
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, re-reading 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 and romantic, Ash is an empowering retelling of Cinderella about choosing life and love over solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
Review:

When I stumbled across this re-telling of Cinderella I was a little overjoyed to be honest. Not only do I love love love fairy tale re-tellings, but I’m also a sucker for LGBT romances. There is just something so much more real about the romances in most of the fantasy books I’ve read when the protagonist is gay. I don’t know why, but it’s as though these relationships are treated with a more delicate hand and it makes it feel much more authentic to me. Rather then the instant meant to be together forever tripe or the gratuitous humping that finds its way into a lot of books (I'm looking at you Anita Blake), these budding romances are much more emotional rather then physical and seem to grow through out the book rather then culminate in one hot fuck after a night of drinking (though those scenes serve a purpose as well I suppose).

I don’t want to get too stuck on gay relationships in books (though they're full of win), but Ash and Kaisa’s relationship is just so damn sweet. It perfectly suits the lyrical fairy tale style Lo wrote this book in and I love the fact that it’s not the expected “prince charming” of the original Cinderella. Even though the front jacket makes Ash and Kaisa’s relationship clear from the beginning, I still kept waiting for it to happen. The slow budding of their relationship was torturous and realistic at the same time.

Beyond Ash’s relationship with Kaisa and Sidhean, not too much plot wise actually happens in the book. Though this may bother some people, Ash is such a lovable character that I didn’t mind at all. I thought Lo wrote a realistic story about why Ash would be in the predicament she was in with her stepmother and I really enjoyed how Ash being gay wasn’t written to be shocking. In the word Ash lives in there is no difference between straight or gay relationships and I’d like to hope that one day we might be the same.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:

The end of this book is just magical. Even though this book doesn’t look like it will have a sequel, I like to think Ash and Kaisa are off living in some enchanted little cottage together (maybe the house Ash grew up in).

Verdict:

I could have done with a little less fairy tale telling in the book, but other then that I thought the story was great. When I did "fairy tale week" over at my other blog I did a post on Cinderella. In that post, I talked about how the Cinderella in the original stories had the power to ask for a nice clothes and jewels all along, but wasn’t ready yet. It is through Cinderella’s suffering that she gains the strength to ask for what she wants and I think Lo, whether it was her intention or not, expounded on that idea through the invention of Sidhean.

Food for thought.

Rating: 8. Excellent – some laughing and/or crying involved

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