11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too
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...
Published on 6 Nov 2009 by TeensReadToo
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A retelling that seemed to drown in rich detail
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...
Published on 1 Aug 2010 by Brida
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5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT RE-TELLING OF AN OLD FAVOURITE!,
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This review is from: Ash (Paperback)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!
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I'd read this as a teen,
This review is from: Ash (Paperback)I wish I'd read this book as a teen. It is a wonderful lovely fairy story, with a GLBT romance which is never issue laden or heavy, but rather just provides traditional fairytale romance that just happens to be between two girls. Ash is an orphan left alone with a cruel stepmother (sound familiar?). Lonely and desperate to escape her life, she finds herself drawn to the forest where the strange and ghostly fae dwell, and becomes increasingly involved with a fae lord. Then she meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, and everything changes.
This is a lovely version of Cinderella, with a really positive and life giving message throughout. I enjoyed it thoroughly, unconventional twists and all.
4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting fairytale retelling,
This review is from: Ash (Paperback)For as long as I can remember when asked what my favourite fairytale was, I'd answer with Cinderella. The magic, the 'against the odds'-ness, the romance and the way the stepsisters get their just desserts in the end, I was enchanted by all of it. All of these elements and more were present in Malinda Lo's Ash, a beautiful retelling of Cinderella. I love (retold) fairy tales and Ash is one of the better ones I've read recently. In this version of Cinderella's story, there is no pumpkin, no singing animals and no bippity-boppity-boo. This is not the Disneyfied version of Perrault's tale, but far closer to the much scarier and more sinister version as recorded by the Brothers Grimm. Which makes it all the better in my opinion; a good fairytale should be a little scary, otherwise happily ever after is far less cathartic than it should be and the morality of the tale would be lost.
The way the fairy were worked in was cool; these are the true Sidhe, beautiful, dangerous and treacherous creatures better avoided than sought out. Sidhean is both sinister and comforting in his care for Ash. To me he remained a cypher to the end, mostly because I couldn't decide whether to trust him or not. Ms Lo shows the more vicious side of his nature in flashes, but these flashes give the impression that violence simmers very shallowly underneath the surface of his outwardly cool facade. At the same time, he genuinely seems to care for Ash and is quite protective of her. Wary though I was of the character, I did like him and found him sympathetic.
Less sympathetic, or rather altogether repugnant, are Ash's stepmother and eldest stepsister. It was hard to find redeeming qualities about them, which made them seem rather flat, the stepmother more so than the sister; they had to make Ash's life awful and that is what they did. Ash's youngest stepsister, Clara, at least is somewhat redeemed in the later part of the book, when she starts showing some spirit and shows Ash some kindness. I liked this, as it showed that she is as much a victim as Ash is, albeit in a far different manner.
The true stars of the novel are Ash and Kaisa though, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Ash is a strong character, who retains her spirit, despite of her grief for her parents and the way her stepmother treats her. I love how she almost dares the Fairy to take her, Sidhean calls her reckless because of it, but to me it seemed like that was the only way she could feel alive on her own terms. Kaisa, the King's Huntress, is independent and shows that women can be powerful in their own right. The romantic triangle with Kaisa and Sidhean is interesting, Ash seems torn between to equally powerful personalities. The symbolism of the fact that Ash mostly sees Sidhean at night when it's dark and Kaisa mostly during the day, when it's light, resonated with the fact that the choice between Kaisa and Sidhean is basically a choice between life and death. While I felt sorry for Sidhean, I was rooting for Ash and Kaisa all the way. I loved their slow romance, the way it took until late in the book for Ash to realise that what she feels is love and her conviction that not only is this what she wants, it has given her a way to make it happen.
All the reviews I've read, have talked about the fact that Ash deals with a lesbian romance. So I went in with the expectation that this would be a far larger theme in the novel than it actually was. Instead it just is, Ash falls in love with Kaisa and Kaisa falls in love with Ash. And I loved that. I loved that in this world that could just be, without whispers, problems and anxieties beyond does she love me too? It saddens me though, to think that in reality that is the fairytale. Hopefully one day it won't be.
Ash is a wonderful tale, as enchanting as Perrault and as thrilling as Grimm. Huntress, a prequel to Ash is out next month and I can't wait to find out whether that is as lovely as its predecessor.
4.0 out of 5 stars Like a work of art, warts and all,
This review is from: Ash (Paperback)The storyline of Ash has been debated on here a lot. I didn't look at any of these reviews before reading Ash and I wouldn't recommend anybody do so. Just read the book! It's like art. Causes strong reactions in some people and barely a ripple in others.
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeously written but so-so characters,
This review is from: Ash (Paperback)Left at her cruel stepmother's mercy after her father's death, Ash starts to ignore her mother's old warnings about the fairies. Surely nothing could be worse than the life she has now? Perhaps being stolen away by the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean wouldn't be such a bad thing? And then she meets the King's Huntress, Kaisa, and realises that maybe there is a place for her in the real world, away from both her stepmother AND the fairies. Who will she choose, Sidhean or Kaisa? In case you hadn't guessed, this is Cinderella with a lesbian twist...
Well, as love triangles go, girl, male fairy, and huntress is fairly unique. And full marks for it not being spelt faerie, which I'm starting to get an unreasonable dislike for for some reason. Also, while this is Lo's debut novel, it's clear from reading this book that she's a major talent. In particular, her writing style is gorgeous - elegant without being over the top, and her description of the first hunt Ash goes on with Kaisa is particularly well-written.
Having said that, I have to admit the book didn't grab me in the way that my favourite books do, possibly because I thought Ash was a fairly bland focus for the novel herself and that some of the others weren't really that well developed. Kaisa, a complex character who takes her role as Huntress very seriously despite the emotions it awakens in her, is an honourable exception to this, as is Clara, the younger and nicer of Ash's stepsisters, who I'd love to have read more about. I did think the lesbian relationship between Kaisa and Ash was really well-handled, as well - it never came across as being added in for shock value, it felt completely natural.
Fairly high recommendation to fans of Holly Black, Melissa Marr and Sara Ryan.
Next up for Lo is Huntress, a prequel to Ash - will give that a try and hope that I'm more convinced by the characters this time.
4.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing fairytale retelling,
This review is from: Ash (Paperback)(I'd rate this 3.5 if I could.)
I got recommended this one because it's a lesbian spin on Cinderella, with the caveat that it's not brilliant, and I felt exactly the same way on finishing it.
That a burgeoning lesbian relationship between two young women is never once considered unusual or unnatural is so, so refreshing. I wish I'd been able to read it in my teens. I wish more gay relationships were written this way.
Which makes it such a shame that the book's a bit too rushed and shallow in places: almost no time is taken to establish the stepmother (besides her being evil) and the stepsisters (one is like the mother, the other's a bit nicer); little is said of setting, although it's generic enough that anyone who lives in the British countryside knows what it looks like anyway; Ash's relationships with the servants in another household could have been developed much more.
Fortunately, her interactions with the Huntress are given enough time to feel very real, moving between friendliness and awkwardness and small displays of attraction, and so the ending is suffiently moving. Any scene with these two felt alive. So too did those involving the fae, whose company Ash courts despite the danger. The granter of the plot's wishes is pleasantly sinister, forming an important obstable for Ash to overcome. Ash's progression from so depressed she cares little for her life to someone who is determined to get what she wants is nicely done.
I found the book a quick, enjoyable read, though I do wish it had been more substantial.
4.0 out of 5 stars Elegantly walks the paths of Cinderella,
This review is from: Ash (Paperback)Confounds expectations. Lots left unsaid and unexplained, creating a real atmosphere of magic. I hope Lo writes more set in this world.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book,
This review is from: Ash (Paperback)This book, although meant for teens, was fantastic. It is loosely based on Cinderella (hence "Ash") and is a fairy tale, complete with the wicked Step Mother and ugly (or spoilt in this case). Although it starts out fairly quietly it soon picks up speed as Ash is catapulted into more and more difficult circumstances as a result of both parents dying. Although indebted to her new Step Mother, Ash quickly adapts to her new life and is quickly made aware of the fairy land that she frequents. Approximately half way through the book we are introduced to the Huntswoman and the story takes a very interesting twist. don't want to give anything away but it is an aspect of the book which was so surprising. The author has portrayed the relationships in the book as they should be; without shame or prejudice. If only this society could be so accomodating..
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Rather Different Love Triangle,
This review is from: Ash (Hardcover)As rapidly becomes obvious when you read this, this is a re-telling of the Cinderella story. But it's not quite the one you remember from Disney.
Aisling (Ash) is our Cinderella, losing her mother at the age of 13, and her father not long thereafter. There is the traditional step-mother of the original tale, but as depicted here she's not quite an absolutely mean-spirited ogre, but rather truly has a reason for treating Ash as she does. Her step-sisters are still pretty addle-pated, obsessed with their looks and catching a man of means as their ticket to the good life, but here again there's a little more meat placed on the bare bones of this story, as it's not just the prince of the realm that they set their eyes on, but includes the possibility of catching a much older man, considering him to be acceptable merely because he has money, regardless of his character or age, and as such provides some commentary on arranged marriages and the self-imposed bind of people trying to maintain their image and rich lifestyle regardless of the cost.
But beyond these minor revisions, there are two major points of departure from the original. The first is the introduction of the fairy elves, a complete culture in their own right, that used to have a fair amount of regular contact with the 'normal' people, and second is the introduction of the King's Huntress, a nice change from the traditional all-male dominated society of most fantasies. These two items provide the focus for Ash's development, first with her attraction to Sidhean of the elves, and second her attraction to the Kaisa, the current Huntress, which is barely acknowledged by Ash at first, but eventually becomes an overriding force in driving the story to its conclusion.
Sidhean is only lightly drawn, remaining pretty much a dark mysterious character, but there are intimations given that fairy-human affairs, while not impossible, are very rare for good reasons, and are not simple in complexion. Sidhean is this story's replacement for the fairy godmother of the Disney tale, and provides a much darker feel to the overall story. Kaisa is also drawn with only light brush-strokes, and this I felt was something of problem with this book, as I felt the developing attraction between her and Ash needed a deeper exposition to be truly believable. While the acceptance of same-gender relationships is admirably portrayed as just a normal part of this society, not worthy of comment, the feelings Ash has towards Kaisa remain too vague, with inadequate development. Rather oddly, I felt that this story needed a little more romantic treatment, some better hooks into Ash's development from a pre-adolescent to a woman, to make it a fully engaging story.
An interesting twist on the original Cinderella, which some good social commentary nicely folded into the story, but not quite as robust as it could have been with some deeper delving into Ash's development.
---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinderella story remade,
This review is from: Ash (Hardcover)The Cinderella story with a slightly darker and more magical twist. This is a beautiful story that, although simple in the telling has a brilliant plot, wonderful characters and a delightful ending. Lo's writing sucked me straight in and kept me guessing pretty much until the last page. A great read for those who love fairy tales.
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Ash by Malinda Lo (Paperback - 4 Mar 2010)