After the death of her parents Ash is left under the care of her cruel step-mother and her two step-sisters. Ash is taken away from home to Quinn House and there she is forced to live as a servant to pay off the debt her father left behind. When she can, she escapes to the forest and there she befriends the fairy Sidhean. Solemn and quiet, Sidhean becomes her only friend. She longs to leave her life of servitude behind so she can be with him. This all changes when she meets Kaisa, the King's royal Huntress. A bond grows between them that makes everything, even Sidhean's enchanting company, pale in comparison. Ash must choose between a life in the fairy realm or true love and a life of her own.
Ash by Malinda Lo is a retelling of the classic fairy-tale, Cinderella. There are so many retellings out there that it would be easy to dismiss Ash as another one of these texts. But, it is a complete departure from the original Cinderella that it shouldn't easily be dismissed.
Firstly, it veers greatly from the original fable. Ash builds a world where magic exists just at the edge of everything. The world is built in a way where fairies, fables and magic could be plausible and the consequences of abusing these powers all too real.
Despite having elements of the old fable, such as the stepmother and the threat of midnight, it was easy to forget that this was a retelling of Cinderella. The story, much like Ash, cut it's own path. Instead of having Ash fall in love with a prince, or even Sidhean, she falls in love with Kaisa. The love between them grows over time in a way that is completely believable and unlike the insta-love that occurs in some other YA fiction. While I do like the insta-love when it's written well, it was nice to see the love between Ash and Kaisa grow over time as they got to know each other and as Ash herself grew into a strong, independent woman.
I was fully prepared to love Ash by Malinda Lo and I wasn't disappointed. Ash is about inner strength and fighting for life, love and freedom.
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Anjulie Te Pohe
Founder of Koru Mag | Mookychick contributor | Avid reader and writer of YA | Takatapui (Maori & bi/queer) | She/Them | Contact: email@example.com