review: “ash” September 1, 2009Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: arc, book birthday, fairy tales re-told
(Yay! “Ash” is now available wherever books are sold! Give my library another week to process it.)
Ash by Malinda Lo.
Little, Brown // ARC // 272 pages.
Reviewed from an ARC received at ALA Annual Conference 2009.
A retold and re-imagined Cinderella story. Ash’s mother has past away and her father has remarried, leaving her alone with her step-mother and two step-sisters. During the day, Ash works hard, following the orders of her step-family. At night though, she dreams of fairies and the woods. Slowly, Ash begins to explore the woods around her home, meeting Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, and Sidhean, a mysterious stranger. But secrets from Ash’s past have yet to play out. And there is more to her story than meets the eye…
I read “Ash” in one fell swoop, eagerly turning the pages until I finished the book. The writing of this book was lyrical and the imagery was fantastic. I really got a sense of the location of the book; Ash’s mother’s grave site and the woods are the most memorable places for me.
But what truly shined were the characters and their accessibility. So often in fairy tales I feel like the characters are too perfect, that they don’t make mistakes and that they don’t rescue themselves. What this retelling has done is given us real characters that teens can relate to despite the historical setting. Teens will be able to see themselves in Ash, and to connect with her.
I loved how the elements of the traditional Cinderella story were changed, molded to the story. I didn’t feel like it was forced, it was all very natural and fluid. In particular, I liked the idea of an actual fairy serving as the fairy godmother.
The ending of the story leaves a good chunk to the imagination. There is a part of the story untold. I wasn’t bothered by this, but I know some of my teens will come up to the desk and ask me why that part wasn’t written. I’m betting, though, that the majority of them will just use their imaginations.
A wonderful debut novel — I look forward to whatever follows.