Ash by Malinda Lo

Pages: 291

Genre: fantasy – fairytales, young adult, lgbtq

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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 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.

My thoughts


“Ash” is an okay book, with an okay main character and that’s it. Normally I like fairy tales retellings, especially if you have to guess which fairytale it is based on. In this book, however, you pretty much know straight away that it is a Cinderella story. The name of the book – and the main character – is literally Ash, as in the ash and soot Cinderella is always covered in. At the beginning, the setting sounded so promising, the fairy and fantasy-element in it so strong. Unfortunately that feeling died with her father, when she was forced away from her home and had to play it out like any other Cinderella story.

But what is a Cinderella story without a romance and a happily ever after? I was looking forward to the f/f relationship I had read all about. I am still searching for a relationship in these pages, because it never seems to start. I don’t think I can say more without spoiling the whole thing, but just know – if you want to read this book because of the lesbian/lgbtq tag/genre solely – you might want to reconsider. Unless you expect something children under twelve might call a romance, because in any relationship (friendly or romantic or sisterly), this fairytale never does anything else than skim the surface. That might be the problem for the rest of the magic elements too, we only hear about them, not actually witness them most of the time.

While this book has its magical moments, as a whole it is a bit too weak and dull. I think I’ll do as Ash and get my joy straight from the real fairytales, because this version contains too few twists or new elements to be better than the originals. Perhaps if the f/f relationship had been stronger, or maybe the plot had some original twists. But perhaps I just know too many versions of Cinderella too well, for those who only know of the Disney version, this book might be ejoyable. “Ash” had potential, but it ended there. The cover is beautiful, though.

3 thoughts on “Ash by Malinda Lo

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