YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

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, re-reading 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.

I absolutely adored this lovely fairytale retelling. It was a delicious blend of fantasy, romance and action. Ash was a unique and compelling novel with a brooding atmosphere which will draw you in making it impossible to put down.

The story started out slowly but quickly gains momentum with the introduction of the faeries. It’s easy to sympathize with Ash as her misery is something we may have experience at some point in our lives. Though we may not have to be a servant in our own homes, but parents may divorce and suddenly you have a stepmother and new siblings. Or perhaps losing a loved one. Needless to say, both instances are not uncommon.

There’s something very addictive about this book. Even though most of us know the story of Cinderella, the lesbian twist definitely changes things. The fairy godmother is not the fairy godmother we know of. In this case, it is a male faerie called Sidhean with underlying intentions. I felt Sidhean’s character was more developed as opposed to Kaisa’s. Sorry but I liked Sidhean a lot more than I should have, maybe it’s because he isn’t a good guy and we all know I’m a sucker for bad dangerous guys. Perhaps if Kaisa was better developed I would have liked her more.

Readers, do not be turned away from this book just because Prince Charming is a women. Malinda Lo explained it very well on her website.

At its heart, Ash is about a girl who is grieving the loss of her parents, who both die when she’s only 12 years old. That loss sends her into a deep, almost suicidal depression. The novel tells the story of Ash coming out of that depression and choosing to live. The fact that she falls in love with a woman, as opposed to a man, is almost secondary.

Ash was written exceptionally well and I think the fans of Graceling, Princess Ben, A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy will enjoy this book as the language used reminds me of historical fiction. Or if you like retellings of fairytales, then you should check this out. I am definitely looking forward to reading Malinda Lo’s future novels. Meg Cabot said, “A rich and darkly moving tale I couldn’t put down. Malinda Lo is an exciting and welcome new voice in YA.” You can never go wrong with books that Meg Cabot blurbed.

Visit Malinda Lo’s website to learn more about Ash and the characters!

Gold star!


Comments on: "Ash by Malinda Lo" (10)

  1. This book looks so good. I have a copy of it, but I haven’t finished it yet because of its slow beginning. Looking forward to trying it again after reading this review!


  2. This sounds really, really good. I love the twists on the original that the author has taken. I’ll definitely be getting my hands on a copy of this!

  3. Nice review. I want to read this book too but I’m waiting till my library gets a copy.

  4. Hmm, I’ve never really liked the mystical theme in books.

  5. Jennifer L said:

    I got this one at ALA too. I love retold fairy tales, but this has been waiting for me to get to it while I wade through a million urban fantasies. *movies it up the list*

  6. I’m reading this and loving it so far. I love fairy tale retellings with an original twist.

    The Cinderella retelling I have loved the most so far is Betty Sharpe’s “Ember”. It’s available for free download at http://www.bettiesharpe.com/reads/ember.php – or you can read it for free on the author’s website. It’s totally worth it. Warning: it contains adult themes. Nothing too terrible but some sex scenes. I don’t know if you’re old enough to read this; you might want to wait a few years before trying it.

  7. wasnt sure about this book before but I think Im gonna get it now


  8. sherie buck said:

    I would love to read this book, the review has really helped in what should I read next.

  9. haha, “Readers, do not be turned away from this book just because Prince Charming is a women.” just that makes me want to read the book. 🙂 sounds interesting. great review!

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