Most helpful positive review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.