Ash by Malinda Lo
publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
released: September 2009
hardcover, 272 pages
intended audience: Young Adult
Description from bn.com:
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 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, 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.
Review: When I had finished the last page of this book and let the whole story sink in, it instantly become one of my favorites. One of the best stories I've read in a long time. Dear Miss Lo: please write more books so I can devour them all! This was written in a beautiful style that, to me, made it feel like a classic fairy tale. In this wonderful retelling of Cinderella, the old story becomes even more literally a "fairy tale", with some very interesting twists thrown in. I love how the author took a tale that has been rehashed again and again (and again!) and made it fully original and personal to herself, and in doing so, showed her readers that love comes in so many shapes and forms, from the love of a mother, to otherworldly and sometimes completely unexpected places. I also found the character of Ash (Aislynn--I loved her name!) to be very courageous and independent, despite being forced to serve her stepmother and awful stepsister, while dealing with grief and many unexpected emotions. She was written as a girl who could really hold her own and think for herself, and I love that little twist. The copy I read was from the library, but without a doubt, I will be purchasing a copy to add to my personal collection very soon!