Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash

Cinderella retold 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 bel...

Title:Ash
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0316040096
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:264 pages

Ash Reviews

  • Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror)

    If you know the story of Cinderella then you know most of the beginning of the book, but somewhere near the middle it starts to veer off on its own path. Ash has a fairy(godfather?) who watches over her named Sidhean (pronounced Sheen - I looked it up because it was driving me nuts!) In order to feel some sort of freedom from her stepmother and stepsisters, Ash takes every opportun

    If you know the story of Cinderella then you know most of the beginning of the book, but somewhere near the middle it starts to veer off on its own path. Ash has a fairy(godfather?) who watches over her named Sidhean (pronounced Sheen - I looked it up because it was driving me nuts!) In order to feel some sort of freedom from her stepmother and stepsisters, Ash takes every opportunity she has to escape into the Wood. She meets with Sidhean and they form a sort of friendship, but since Ash spends so much time out in the Wood she also happens upon the King's Huntress, Kaisa, a few times as well. Ash and Kaisa also develop a friendship and Ash becomes torn between two worlds and both seem forbidden to her.

    I'm not sure how I feel about the way this story played out. It was written well enough and was an interesting retelling of an old tale, but I don't think I liked the way it ended. Throughout the book Ash reads and is told by various people many different fairy tales. She even remarks near the end of the book that all of the tales were meant to warn people of dangers in life and that there was always a moral to the story.

    I also felt bad for Sidhean, the Prince, and most of the men in the story as they were basically cast-off into the background. Even with Sidhean it felt like he was more of an experiment than an actual love-interest.

    I also didn't know the author was a lesbian until I read her bio on the last page, and perhaps knowing that before I read this could have clued me into the fact that this was a lesbian romance. I think that says something about Lo's ability to create believable relationships though, if I didn't even realize the two of them were supposedly falling in love.

    I mostly enjoyed this novel and I'd probably read something else by her in the future. A lot of the reviews on here make me pretty sad though, especially the ones that say you shouldn't give this book to a teen to read because it's "sick," and "how dare she mess with a classic fairy-tale!" Ugh, really?

    If you want the "same old, same old" then just go read whichever "original" version is your favorite and stop reading retellings; you'll be doing everyone a favor.

  • Heather

    The GoodReads five-star rating system isn't perfect because some books (like, say, pretty much all Fitzgerald and Salinger) get five stars because I think they're just freaking brilliant writing; while other books (like, say,

    and the

    books) get five stars because I love the characters so much.

    Then, of course, there are the

    and

    that receive five stars because it's like they retell my whole world:

    The GoodReads five-star rating system isn't perfect because some books (like, say, pretty much all Fitzgerald and Salinger) get five stars because I think they're just freaking brilliant writing; while other books (like, say,

    and the

    books) get five stars because I love the characters so much.

    Then, of course, there are the

    and

    that receive five stars because it's like they retell my whole world:

    was that last thing for me.

    I've always thought fairy tales were history books, always revered the Woods, always been reckless in pursuit of adventure, always wanted to fall in love with a girl. That's this heroine.

    Once I really got into

    , I couldn't get out.

    I'm giving it four stars for freshness, four stars for writing, five stars for magic and five stars for speaking to greater truth. Plus, I am giving it five

    stars for waking up the little kid in me. She doesn't exactly hibernate, but sometimes gets so bored with the adult world that she is forced into a long winter's nap.

    I loved how Malinda -- I can call her that; she was my editor once -- writes about the smell of magic. And this:

    "Have

    ever wanted to be a princess?" Ash challenged her.

    "That depends," Kaisa said.

    "On what?"

    "On whether I would have to marry a prince."

  • karen

    goddamn it, this was my bright shiny hope for gay YA week! this was the one i was banking on to be my best "assigned-but-loved-the-whole-time-i-was-reading-it-and-this-is-why-i-am-paying-for-grad-school-discovery."

    sign me up! i've already read what robert coover and angela carter have done to improve fairy tales, let's see where this one goes!

    and it starts out great - the writing is wonderful; it is very literary and lush and haunting.

    and

    goddamn it, this was my bright shiny hope for gay YA week! this was the one i was banking on to be my best "assigned-but-loved-the-whole-time-i-was-reading-it-and-this-is-why-i-am-paying-for-grad-school-discovery."

    sign me up! i've already read what robert coover and angela carter have done to improve fairy tales, let's see where this one goes!

    and it starts out great - the writing is wonderful; it is very literary and lush and haunting.

    and

    were so chatty and conversational - this one required more involvement from the reader, which involvement i have been missing in a big way. it's not a difficult read, but unlike the others, it is not all surface reading; there is depth here that elevates it to the ranks of "litterature," yessss.

    but.

    fairy tales are generally symbolic stories which mask universal human desires too emotional or frightening to deal with head-on. is this a universal truth, or am i letting my undergrad "psychology of fairy tales" class color my thinking here? let's say we all know this to be so. i simply do not understand this character's motivations, or what leads her on to her fairy tale ending. is it just a matter of "the heart wants what the heart wants", and we don't need to explain what attracts two people to each other? there was no "moment of falling". i never got a sense of character from the huntress; she remained enigmatic. strangely, she was even more enigmatic than ash's fairy-lover, with his intoxicating presence and fancy gifts and willingness to assist ash in all her assignations. am i the only one feeling bad for sidhean?? his was a "forbidden love", too, and he didn't even get any say in the matter. damn curses.

    so as a fairy tale, it fails me, psychologically. and as a lesbian awakening novel, it fails me, too. we never see them fall in love, we never understand why. in the world of this novel, the same-gender love is not shocking, it is not taboo - sometimes girls just go with girls. so kudos on that, but this does two things: it removes conflict, except the conflict of "do i go with my awesome fairy lover which is what i have wanted since i was a little girl, or do i go with my awesome huntress woman who is badass and has a great job." two great options, must be nice.

    in this world, she is not choosing the love that dares not speak its name over the more traditional lover, in fact, she is choosing the more socially acceptable one. mindboggling.

    so but also, it is not developed enough to be that casual. because we never see the love developing, it just sort of seems unconvincing at the end. this is my favorite review:

    because this reader obviously didn't see this turn coming, and is confused by its ending, since nothing else suggests that this is where it is going to be going. i don't know if the stars are meant to avoid spoilers (although, really, you don't have to be a master wordsmith) or because it is a naughty naughty word, but it made me laugh. clearly, in the world of teen readership, we are not ready for lesbian lit that does not proclaim itself from the outset, as this other reviewer's surprise seems to indicate:

    . secret, creep-up-on-you lesbian fiction?? maybe in a few years. biding our time, ladies...

  • Kristy

    No, No, No, No, No!!!!

    Cinderella is not a lesbian!!! Ack, she is suppsed to fall in love with Prince charming and be doted on by silly little mice. This is a crock!

    I had a hard time getting into this in the beginning, then the middle hooked me for a hot minute, but the end is such a hot mess I can't even go there!! I expected more Fairies, more darkness, more love (in male form). I got nothing of the sort!! Blek, I do NOT reccomend this!!

    Acceptable forms of Cinderella:

    or

    No, No, No, No, No!!!!

    Cinderella is not a lesbian!!! Ack, she is suppsed to fall in love with Prince charming and be doted on by silly little mice. This is a crock!

    I had a hard time getting into this in the beginning, then the middle hooked me for a hot minute, but the end is such a hot mess I can't even go there!! I expected more Fairies, more darkness, more love (in male form). I got nothing of the sort!! Blek, I do NOT reccomend this!!

    Acceptable forms of Cinderella:

    or

    Not

    crossed with

    and a touch of

  • branewurms

    eta: You know, I figured when I wrote this "review" that I had made it sufficiently ridiculous and over-the-top that no one on Earth could

    take it seriously. I mean, I claim that DISNEY INVENTED CINDERELLA, people. And then there's the link at the end labeled "real review here", which should maybe be a hint? But okay, whatever, for those of you who are apparently

    to sarcasm, here is your blinking neon sign:

    Also, just fyi, I am prett

    eta: You know, I figured when I wrote this "review" that I had made it sufficiently ridiculous and over-the-top that no one on Earth could

    take it seriously. I mean, I claim that DISNEY INVENTED CINDERELLA, people. And then there's the link at the end labeled "real review here", which should maybe be a hint? But okay, whatever, for those of you who are apparently

    to sarcasm, here is your blinking neon sign:

    Also, just fyi, I am pretty sure Johnathan Swift did not eat babies, Irish or otherwise. I hope this information this clears many things up for you.

    The original review:

    Omg, you guys, did you realize that in this book, Cinderella ends up in a LESBIAN RELATIONSHIP?! How could anyone even imagine such a bizarre thing?! Because it's not like fairy tales involve the most bizarre shit known to man or anything, and even if they do, lesbians are way weirder. And why do you want to go around changing Cinderella in the first place! It's not like it's a folktale with thousands of variants all over the world - Disney invented it and it's perfect the way it is! How dare anyone seek to rework a fairy tale in a manner that relates to their own life and experiences! Cinderella belongs to ME and I don't want it to be gay! It's not like there are a gazillionty of the usual heteronormative retellings of the story out there for me to enjoy, and besides, I am offended that anyone could even conceive of a fairy tale princess as a lesbian, because it's totally obvious that everything in the world should be catered to ME ME ME and MY desires and experiences!

    Jeez, gay people. Always getting the idea that they deserve things of their own, like they think they're

    or something. Such entitlement, sheesh.

    (real review here:

    )

  • Tatiana

    I will pick Disney's version of

    over

    any day and without the slightest hesitation. For a book with such a provocative, potentially controversial premise,

    is dreadfully, painfully dull and lacking in strong emotion and vibrant characters.

    This retelling is both familiar and slightly new (albeit in an uninteresting and directionless way). In this version, orphaned Ash is forced to be a serving maid to her (not so evil) stepmother and stepsisters. But instead of sneaking into the

    I will pick Disney's version of

    over

    any day and without the slightest hesitation. For a book with such a provocative, potentially controversial premise,

    is dreadfully, painfully dull and lacking in strong emotion and vibrant characters.

    This retelling is both familiar and slightly new (albeit in an uninteresting and directionless way). In this version, orphaned Ash is forced to be a serving maid to her (not so evil) stepmother and stepsisters. But instead of sneaking into the royal ball and meeting The Prince, Ash comes across a fairy prince and a huntress with whom she has occasional long walks in the woods. The Prince never becomes Ash's viable suitor.

    On a technical level, the book is written well enough. Lo's style has some elegance to it. However, the style doesn't compensate for the novel's weak plot.

    Where was the conflict, I'd like to ask first? I finished the book still searching for one. Accepting one's own homosexuality certainly isn't it. In the novel's world, being a lesbian is not forbidden, and the main character never for a moment struggles with her sexual awakening.

    Is it Ash's choice between the fairy prince and the Royal Huntress then? No again. Considering how little chemistry the heroine has with either of them, that is not the answer.

    Or maybe it is Ash's shady deal with her fairy suitor? But that works out so easily, it's not even worth mentioning.

    I have no more guesses.

    What makes this already plotless story even less palatable is the lack of any strong feeling in it. There is no passion of first real love, there is no fight against time, even the reliable anger towards the stepmother isn't there, because this usually easily hated character isn't sufficiently hate-inducing. There is not even some humor or witty or heartfelt dialog to liven things up.

    My overall impression of

    is that it is dull, boring and pointless. If not for its

    fame, I doubt this novel would have gained any readers at all.

  • Riley

    This is the fairytale I always wanted

  • Lola  Reviewer

    Lesbian retelling of the beloved CINDERELLA fairy tale.

    What a lovely book. It’s beautifully-written, beautifully-told and so interesting.

    Although the beginning begs the question, ‘‘Is this really a retelling?’’ meaning that it’s far too similar to the original story, the rest, however, is full of originality.

    I’m going to warn you right away that Ash is a one-dimensional character. When you think about it, so is Cinderella in the original fairy tale. Actually, the majority of fairy tale heroes

    Lesbian retelling of the beloved CINDERELLA fairy tale.

    What a lovely book. It’s beautifully-written, beautifully-told and so interesting.

    Although the beginning begs the question, ‘‘Is this really a retelling?’’ meaning that it’s far too similar to the original story, the rest, however, is full of originality.

    I’m going to warn you right away that Ash is a one-dimensional character. When you think about it, so is Cinderella in the original fairy tale. Actually, the majority of fairy tale heroes and heroines are one-dimensional, because the focus is on the story and message behind it than the characters themselves.

    That’s why I never expected Ash to be the most three-dimensional of characters. Still, she is very relatable nonetheless. Unlike Cinderella, she has hate in her heart. Not a huge amount of it, but it’s still present and will not go away in a snap of fingers. Cinderella knows not what hate is, so one can argue that Cinderella and Ash are two very different people, despite their circumstances.

    Oh and, Ash is lesbian. That’s a major difference.

    Like I said, it’s so interesting. Instead of solely focusing on retelling the events of CINDERELLA, Malinda Lo plays with the world-building as well, giving it an important role in the story. In Ash’s world, magic is something few believe in now that is has mostly disappeared, but Ash’s mother told her of so many stories involving magic and fairies that the belief in it remains in her heart.

    Granted, it’s a slow story. Things certainly do not progress at the speed of light. But it’s a lush story with lush writing and a lovely romance. Ash does not know how she feels about the King’s Huntress. Their relationship, like everything else in the story, evolves slowly. It’s one of the things that make Ash relatable to us—because who never ever questioned their sexuality?

    What a surprising book. As in, I really didn’t expect to love it so much.

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