Thursday, January 13, 2011
Ash by Malinda Lo
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.
Malinda Lo created a beautifully written, unique and unconventional vision of the Cinderella fairy tale. I did find the book slow paced but managed to finish it in one sitting (but mostly because I just couldn't sleep). Malinda's descriptive writing makes it easy to picture the Woods surrounding Ash's home, and the Woods themselves are the most described character in the book. In this tale fairies truly exist, and Ash grew up on tales her mother told her of them. But the King has decreed that all the old teachings and beliefs to be outlawed, and this has a big impact on Ash following her mother's death. Troubled with the arrival of her stepmother and stepsisters, Ash goes seeking the fairies and when she finds them she is befriended by Sidhean. For years he is her only friend and escape from her stepmother's cruelty, until she meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress. As their feelings and friendship becomes stronger, Ash must strike a bargain with Sidhean in order to spend more time with Kaisa. Granting her wish, Sidhean asks that her payment be a lifetime spent with him, for he loves Ash. But Ash loves Kaisa. And the thought of living without her leaves Ash hollow inside. Ash must find the strength to repay her debt to Sidhean, even if it might cost her the joy of being with Kaisa.