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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 November 2009
There's something about fairy tales that always feel magical. No matter the story, no matter the characters, there is something about them that just makes you feel the magic inside them. ASH makes you feel every bit of that magic, and more.

Just about everyone, everyone female at least, over the age of 13 or so has heard and/or seen the story of Cinderella. Whether it is Disney's version or the classic fairy tale or the Brothers Grimm version or even one of the other hundreds of versions that have been created over the years, we all know it. ASH is a version that I'm sure you've never heard of before, but that you should.

After losing her mother, Ash's father takes a wife, Lady Isobel. Soon after meeting Lady Isobel, her and her two daughters move into the house with Ash and her father and things drastically change. In line with the fairy tale, Ash's father becomes gravely ill and passes away shortly thereafter. Which not only leaves Ash heartbroken, but also leaves her without either of her parents, and stuck with a "family" that doesn't even like to look at her.

This is the beginning that we all know about Cinderella, and while Ash has many aspects that are the same as the original tale, they are not the same in the slightest. Ash doesn't get the typical fairy godmother; she gets something else all together, but something even more powerful than anything in the candy-coated version that is fed to us as children.

Ash gets a fairy, Sidhean, who is even more lethal and dangerous than anything her stepmother or stepsisters could do/say to Ash. But that's masked in an extent by the beauty and the friendship that lies between Ash and Sidhean. And I mean that to an extent far more than the typical connection between two characters; their relationship is more developed and deeper than most would have thought possible in a novel that doesn't even break 300 pages.

But one day Ash's life, and heart, changes forever. She meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, and there is something between them that's different from the second they meet. Ash begins to stop chasing fairies and starts to live in the world without fairies and the fairy tales, and learns how to hunt and to ride and to track animals. But in this change of life, there is a price for keeping it and for continuing to let it grow.

Through her relationship with Kaisa, Ash finds what it means to grow and what it means to let her heart guide her and, in that realization, she also finds a new capacity to live. Ash prefers the company of the Huntress to the company of the Prince, and that makes this story even more powerful. Malinda Lo has created a world that is magical and finds its own footing in a world where fairy tales are viewed as being for children and has given the older crowd a fairy tale of their own.

This is some of the most beautiful, lyrical writing I've seen in a long time and that is so refreshing. The imagery just blows me away and it's like you're standing right there with Ash through everything, whether it be pain, joy, adventure, or terror. It would kill me to see this story get cast aside and labeled a "lesbian retelling of Cinderella," because it's so much more than that. It's a beautiful story that anyone could relate to and that everyone could take something away from.

I found myself hoping for a sequel in a story that doesn't need one, just because I wanted to spend more time with the characters in this world that Ms. Lo has created. It's beautiful, it's magical, and it's a story that, until now, I didn't know could even exist, but it does, and it needs to be heard. Not to mention, look at the cover. It is so beautiful! This is easily one of my favorite stories this year and I hope that if it's given the chance, it can become everyone else's.

Reviewed by: Samantha Clanton, aka Harlequin Twilight
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on 10 November 2014
A beautifully retelling of a Cinderella, where Ash (Cinderella) meets two captivating and dangerous characters, a handsome male fairy who wants to keep Ash forever, and a killer warrior woman, who also has an interest in keeping Ash to herself.
Both relationships are full of chemistry in different ways, and it's hard to choose between them- at least at the start. Then as more is slowly revealed about the characters, their true natures come to light and it's very clear who Ash should be with, and who she should stay as far away from as possible.

It's refreshing to read such a great LGBT fantasy, which is in short supply, and this one is incredibly well written, bringing to life an old story in a very modern way. This is up there with Spindle's End as one of my favourite fairy tale retellings, and it's worth a read for that alone. An outstanding story!
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I love retellings of fairy tales. I love fairy tales. So, why did I not love ASH more? Well, as the reviewer Tash has said before me, I found the story to be a little bit "blah" for me. Although in one way the book is beautiful, on the other hand it also left me cold. There is no doubt that Lo can write; she is able to set a scene very well by giving us lots of detail about the location; the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that the characters may experience. However, sometimes there is too much detail. At times, I felt as though rather than pushing the story along, it was bogging it down. There were times when I thought about turning away from the book, leaving it unfinished. What drove me on was wondering how Lo would tie up the story between Sidhean and Ash.
Although I am not saying that this is a bad book - I think the way that she handles sexuality should be praised - I was just expecting a little more in my reading experience. The plot took a good while to really get going, so rather than drawing me in with a firm grasp, it just meandered around really until perhaps two-thirds of the way in.
I was disappointed, but you may love it.
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on 18 April 2016
Sweet and engaging; I loved this book and just wanted more scenes with Ash and the huntress. The faerie aspect was very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed all parts of this book. We need more wlw books frankly.
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on 8 June 2011
*This contains minor spoilers*

I enjoyed this. Fairytale reinterpretations are nothing new or unique but by making the main character a lesbian it had an edge than some stories lack. This was well written, with an otherworldly feel about it, and Ash herself is a wonderful character who deals with a lot throughout this book. If you haven't yet read it, do so.

This reads like a proper fairytale in a way some retellings fail to do. It was full of beautiful phrases and passages, be it descriptions of everyday things or the extraordinary, such as seeing the fairies in the woods for the first time.

Ash as a character was rather special. She accepts her fate as a maid after the death of her father with very little vocal complaint. Yes, she resents it but initially she sees no other way. I came to the conclusion later that, if this was set in modern times, she would have been (probably correctly) labelled as depressed. She lost her mother and father in a very short period of time and, due to her being forced to become the family's maid, never got the chance to grieve properly. She internalised a lot of her feeling because there was no one she could turn to.

Ash wasn't my favourite character though, that was Kaisa, the King's Huntress. I don't know why I liked her so much; maybe it was her self-assurance, her gentle wooing of Ash. Likely, it was the fact that she didn't feel the need to rescue Ash with all guns a-blazing. She allowed Ash to save herself.

In place of the fairy godmother of the Disney version (what was it in the original version? I haven't read it in at least a decade) we have a fairy, er, godfather named Sidhean (I'm fairly certain it's pronounced Sean or Shane, my understanding of Gaelic is about half a dozen words and random pronunciation know how).They form a sort of bizarre companionship, almost a friendship, one which Ash gains some comfort from. I wasn't a fan of Sidhean it has to be said. There was something a tad hinky about him, although it turns out he was cursed to fall in love with a human, but they eventually strike a deal allowing Ash to be with her beloved.

All of the Cinderella traits are in the story: evil stepmother, ugly stepsisters, the ball, the running away (from Kaisa this time, not the prince) and the being home by midnight. The glass slipper is replaced by a cloak although Kaisa knows who it belongs to. It was a lovely little book.

But the best thing about the novel? The fact that Ash saved herself. She didn't need Prince Charming, or in this case the King's Huntress, to save her, she was quite capable of doing it herself, thank you very much. That sends out the most powerful message of all.
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VINE VOICEon 14 July 2010
Basically a retelling of Cinderella, I really liked the sound of Ash before I started reading but I found it a little bit ... blah to be honest. It's not a bad book, the writing is good, if a little descriptive for my liking and Ash, the main character is likeable enough. I just found it hard to get into and the story never really seemed to get going for me. I did actually put the book to one side about half way through and had almost decided on taking it back to the library unfinished until I read a review of the book which inspired me enough to give it another try. I did end up partly skim-reading the second half but in the end I was glad I completed it - of only because I hate to leave a book without knowing how it ends.

Although I personally didn't like this book much, I wouldn't put anyone else off reading it as I really do think it was just down to personal preference. It wasn't my kind of thing but it may be yours.
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VINE VOICEon 31 July 2011
I'm not usually a fan of Fairytales or old stories being given a new 'edge' and re-written, but I enjoyed this one!

Whilst its basic telling is of the story of 'Cinderella', there are several different 'twists and turns' - not least the lesbian theme. (though I must confess to preferring Sidhean myself!!) More importantly though (for me at least) it is very atmospheric and written with a great attention to detail - particularly when referring to the Woods which I love.

I really enjoyed this, and is just yet another book in a long line from the 'Young Adults' section that I have read and not been disappointed with!

A great book for any age, and perhaps great to read on a dark Winter evening with stunning Artwork!
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on 1 June 2013
An entertaining and well written read, with both the plots going on in the fairy world and the real world being interesting. The relationship between Kaisa and Ash was sweet and enjoyable and the step-mother was fairly realistic in her cruel treatment of Ash which I liked.
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2/5 stars is generous, and it only got two because the front cover is shiny and pretty. For me, the book was terribly disappointing. I'd heard it was like an LGBT Cinderella story, as a lesbian, I was all for that. But, no. The story dragged on, it took a long time to get to a not-so-great ending and I felt like the reviews had built it up too much... That said, it was far better than all these erotic/adult themed books that have suddenly surfaced since that dreadful 50 Shades thing.
"Ash" could have been a lot better, it had a lot of potential, BUT it was nice to see a girl/girl romance that doesn't come across as some sex fantasy for straight teenage boys.
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on 21 January 2016
Great book. It's like a fairytale, beautifully written. A sort of take on Cinderella, the beautiful girl has lost her father and become maid to her horrid mother and sisters. All the while she has this supernatural stalker fairy guy who I didn't like at all. He is set up as an alternative suitor but came across as some creepy peado. However her saving grace comes in the form of a brave knight who happens to be a woman. They have great chemistry and it's a happy ending. I read this in one sitting, it was riviting.
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