Ash by Malinda Lo
Age: Young Adult; 14 years and older
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.
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.
Review: 5 stars
This book is so incredibly unique. I loved everything about it.
What I liked about this book, and most retellings of the classics, is that it added its own unique spin on a classical story. We all know (hopefully) the story of Cinderella. But this one is complete with the classic mischievous fairy (not the Disney kind) whose magic comes with a price and magic.
I liked the fact that the fairies were the original mischievous kind: the kind that wants to trap you in its circle and never let you go. The kind that has changelings. The kind that isn’t always nice. Another awesome part of this book was the magic and the story of how humans came to reject it. Magic was always a part of the human world, but it dwindled and humans moved on, worshipping religion over magic.
I also loved Ash. She was such a relatable character who had much spirit within her. I loved how connected she was to nature and fairy-kind, which makes sense because of her mother.
Sidhean is a fairy, and not the Tinker Bell kind. He’s dangerous and powerful, but Ash doesn’t seem to care. He is really the only fairy we got to know in the story. I originally was weary of him, but I grew to like him the more Ash interacted with him.
Kaisa was a lot of fun, and I wish we could have seen more of her. Though it is obvious that Ash and Kaisa are falling for each other, I also feel like they didn’t spend enough time together for that to be true love. However, I recognize that the author can’t put every single detail about their lives in there, because then the novel would be incredibly long. There were also points where the author skipped time a little bit, and I assume they hung out during that time as well.
I would have liked to know more about fairies and their personalities, but apart from the brief storytelling moments, we heard very little about them. Fairies were primarily generalized and we didn’t know their story—except for Sidhean. I’m sure this was on purpose, especially because the novel was about Ash, but it would have been nice to know more about fae kind.
This book is full of magic, dangerous fairies, and magic lore, and because of this I recommend it to everyone looking for a fun read. When reading this, I got the same vibe as I did with reading Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, so I recommend it to those who love her books.
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