Ash is sort of a retelling of the fairy tale of Cinderella. Well, with real fairies and a Cinderella who has little to no interest in the prince. Aisling, Ash, is tormented by her stepmother after her father's death. She's been uprooted from the home in which she grew up and she's all alone in the city. She sneaks into the woods behind the house to escape her stepmother and the confinement at the house. Ash also finds interesting things in the woods. She meets a male fairy named Sidhean who takes an interest in her. Ash also stumbles across the King's Huntress, Kaisa, who becomes her only friend. In the end, Ash must make a choice between her fairy tale dreams and true love.
The language Malinda Lo uses in this book is just beautiful. It feels like an old time fairy tale. I love that you can tell it is loosely based on Cinderella but it isn't a verbatim retelling with prince scratched out and princess written in. Ash has a beautiful world and it explores an interesting concept: the choice between what we believe we want and what we actually want. Sidhean represents the fantasy that Ash first builds and then chases. Kaisa is the best friend who loves you no matter what, who will always stand by you and who you love but not in a romanticized way, in a real way. I really liked how Kaisa never really "came on" to Ash. They were just friends who fell in love and that's really the best kind of love, isn't it? I also liked that even though Ash is at one point asked if she is interested in women versus men, it is never a big deal to any of the characters. It just is. No judgement. You are attracted to whoever you are attracted to and that is it. No big deal. It is a fantasy world so I appreciate that it is a world without that particular phobia. I really enjoyed this book all around. I would recommend it to all teens. I don't believe there to be anything questionable in it but, again, it is for you to judge for yourself what you feel comfortable reading. This book is not overtly sexual and as I said, there is one, maybe two kisses and a dance between two females. It's not graphic in any way.
You can find out more about Malinda Lo and her books by checking out her blog and by following her on Twitter. Huntress, which released in April, is a sort of prequel to Ash. If you liked Ash, I would suggest that you try Huntress. I am maybe a quarter of the way in and loving it so far. For those of you heading to New York for BEA, Malinda will NOT be doing "official author things" at BEA because she'll be there "incognito" BUT she will be signing and doing a panel at the Teen Author Carnival on May 23 in New York so if you're in town that night, you may want to check it out!! Find out more here!
Ash gets 4 Fairies for being an epic revamp of a classic fairy tale.