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Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash (edition 2010)

by Malinda Lo

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1,1341427,220 (3.61)97
Authors:Malinda Lo
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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Ash by Malinda Lo

  1. 20
    The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Another old story (this time, the Greek myth of Persephone) retold as a romance between two young women.
  2. 10
    Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Kerian)
  3. 00
    Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey (FFortuna)
    FFortuna: Both Cinderella reimaginings with similar atmospheres, although Ash is more fairy-ish and Phoenix and Ashes is about magicians and WWI.
  4. 00
    Silver Kiss by Naomi Clark (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Deftly told fantasy narrative (in this case dealing with werewolves), in which a lesbian relationship is done right.

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Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
This is a re-telling of Cinderella where Cinderella ends up falling in love with the King's Huntress instead of the Prince. It was a good book, but I wasn't too crazy about it.
( )
  DanielleMD | Jun 20, 2015 |
With the death of her parents, Ash is left to the cruel care of her stepmother, a woman only concerned with what labour Ash can provide while she tries to groom her eldest daughter to an advantageous marriage

Ash finds what comfort she can from the old ways and fairy tales of her childhood, walking the hidden pathways of the wood where the fae reside; considering possibly abduction by fairies only to be a release from her current life

Until she meets Kasia, the king’s huntress – and is given someone else to find and a reason to keep living. But is she already in too deep with the fae? And even without them, can she, a lowly servant, be with the king’s huntress?

I wanted to like this book. I actually tried really hard to like this book. I sat down and argued with myself about this book. I tried to talk myself into liking this book. I desperately tried to convince myself I liked my book. I even tried lying to myself and insisted I liked this book

But I didn’t

The problem is I have trouble putting my finger on exactly why I didn’t enjoy it.

The writing of the book is elaborate and very thematic. It feels like an old fashioned fairy tale, it has the same sense of time and place and setting, the same slight surreal elements. And previous books I have praised for a similar attempt when done well. But a voice at the back of my head does counter that it’s kind of long winded and overly ornate

The book is also a very slow burn, it takes a long time to set the theme, to let us get to know the world and Ash’s circumstances and how she got to where she was. We saw her history

It was deep and nuanced and meaningful and really built Ash as a character. And boring, yes, sorry, kinda boring. There’s comes a point when a character can poignantly visit her mother’s grave in the woods in the middle of the night when you kind of want to just stamp “mummy issues” and press the fast forward button. And, yes, again I do cringe because I can pull back and say how well it was done, how well chosen the writing, how much this did fully bring to life Ash’s grief and loss and her despair without her having to be melodramatic. Little things like the favourite stories she had being of people who got lost in the land of the fairies never to return – because to her, with nothing to live for, they felt like happy endings. It was wonderfully poignant without having to get truly melodramatically monologue-y about it all; her pain was clear and powerful without ever having to hit us over the head of with it.

But it’s soooo long. I found it work and I hate that I did and I tried to love it and desperately resisted the urge to skim – but soooo looong. Sooooo very looong. Perhaps, in part, it’s the media about this book. It’s always been described as a lesbian Cinderella story and the parallels with Ash are very clear very early in the books. But that kind of leaves you in relatively little doubt as to where the story is going to end. It’s more a case of being curious as to exactly how it gets to the ending we know is coming. So when we spend a long time telling the preamble parts of the story which are pretty much parallel to the classic fairy tale it feels like we’re not only spending a long time on these parts – but we’re spending a long time on these parts that we’ve already read several times as well.

On another personal taste element, I was immensely frustrated by all of this magical faerie world being touched upon and none of it explored in any great depth. And I understand that because this is Ash’s story and the mechanics of magic are not really high on her priority list – but personally I want more to explore there.

The major point to make is, of course, that this oh-so-classic straight romantic fairytale is now recast between two women. Ash’s ultimate love is the Huntress Kaisa and even more than her touching with the fae, this is the relationship that defines and, ultimately, saves Ash. Even her delving deeper into faerieland happens first because of her despair but ultimately because she was definitely seeking for the tools she needed to continue to be with Kaisa

As a background, the book also makes it clear that relationships between women are not unknown or shocking in this setting as well with multiple small examples of female lovers. I also really liked that we had a love interest who wasn’t an arsehole and a romance that wasn’t beset with trope laden misunderstandings or” I need to push you away because I love you!” or any other terrible trope nonsense that makes me cringe so often

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | May 20, 2015 |
I dunno. I wanted to like this, as I like more alternative takes on traditional tales, and I like GLBT characters. But it was just a little too, I dunno, simplistic? I didn't feel as if I quite got into the characters' hearts&souls enough. The ending especially was a bit too tidy. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Cinderella reimagined in an ill-defined Olde Worlde Fairy Tale Time where characters use very modern expressions like:

"You disrespect me and what I do for you."

and eat potatoes, and where Cinders (here renamed 'Ash') falls - agonisingly slowly - in vague, ill-defined, lesbian love with the 'Royal Huntress'. The wish-granting Fairy Godmother role is given to a male fairy who turns out to be, potentially, the most interesting character in the whole story. (The fairies here it must be said, are not the winged flittterers of Victorian children's book illustration but ethereal, razor cheeked, otherworldly types prone to luring innocents astray, stealing babies and draining the souls of all who meet them.) This male fairy is, it turns out later in the book, under a spell cast by a human and cursed to be in love with our heroine. It's an interesting idea let down by a plodding, juvenile, vague and waffly prose style which spends a lot of time describing the heroine's inner-indecisiveness and feelings of impotence and not a lot else. When we do get out of our heroine's head, and away from her endless dream sequences - and the endless exchanges of smiles, laughs, and coy blushes shared with her lesbian idol - things get even duller. Stuff happens but it's hazy and plodding. Descriptions of things outside our heroine's head are stuffed full of vagueness. Lo uses 'a bit' and 'seemed', and 'some sort' an awful lot.

What this book needed was a good editor to tell Lo to go back and do it properly. A good editor would have caught things like 'the number of servants were' and straightened out the strange habit Americans have of semi-randomly capitalising anything to do with royalty. The city in which a lot of the floppy 'action' of this book takes place is referred to initially as 'the Royal City' so, thereafter, any mention of the word city is capitalised: City. Likewise 'the King', 'the Queen':

'We will hunt tomorrow and though the King and Queen will return to the City, the hunt will remain here...' pg. 201

For some strange reason the prince, unless he is referred to by name, doesn't get a capital P. The heroine's love interest is alternately: the 'Royal Huntress', or 'the huntress'. Surely if the City gets a big C every time it is mentioned the huntress should get a big H too.

And a decent editor would have taken sentences like this outside and had them shot.

"'You look as if you are leaving,' said Kaisa and those around them turned to look at whom the King's Huntress spoke to. " pg 200

Why the royal hunt is always lead by a woman is never explained. Why is the leader of the royal hunt a woman? Who knows? The rest of the society seems to operate in a stereotypical male dominated fashion with all the women portrayed either as servants or competing for a good husband (or both). The only woman shown to have gained a position of power through her own endeavours is the huntress and that is in a job reserved for women. Early in the book a good, old-fashioned, feminist fantasy trope is trotted out as a patriarchal 'church' sweeps away the more female dominated world of magic but this strand of the story is quickly abandoned and seems to be there merely to establish that women are a bit magicy and blokes aren't. This church of rational philosophers certainly doesn't bring our heroine into conflict or pose any threat to her. In fact there is very little conflict or threat of any kind in this book. The only real danger hanging over Ash (apart from the panto dame stepmother) is the ill-defined 'price' demanded by the fairy godfather for his services. In the end this threat just vanishes when the heroine asks nicely for it to go away.

Gay relationships seem to be accepted without much comment in this society so there is very little inner turmoil / guilt / shame / angst to be dragged out of the closet. Furthermore, since Ash didn't seem to be interested in the prince, the prince not even really aware of Ash (they dance once and he abandons her almost immediately), and the huntress doesn't appear to be interested in anyone else but Ash, there's bugger all conflict getting in the way of True Love at all!

The only discernible (intentional) joke in the whole thing is that the house where the stepmother and her three daughters live without male company is called 'Quinn House' which (seems), if you look at it carelessly and squint your eyes (a bit), could be read 'Quim' House. Ho Ho Ho.

My teenage daughter thought it was pants too. (Though I don't think she got the 'quim' joke.)
  TheOtherJunkMonkey | Feb 24, 2015 |
This was a fantastic re-telling of the Cinderella story with a realistic and sympathetic lesbian bent. If I were to write a paper on it, I think I would discuss representations of patriarchy as embodied by the fairies, the hierarchy, and the family unit.

( )
  librarycatnip | Jan 12, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
Malinda Lo’s somber and lovely “Ash” is a lesbian retelling of “Cinderella”... It features a beautiful orphan — Ash, short for Aisling, and a perfect play on the name “Cinderella” — a ­cruel, social-climbing stepmother and two sneering stepsisters. Lo gives us a vaguely medieval setting, royal hunts, grand balls and an unquestioned class hierarchy. Not until the introduction of Kaisa, the king’s gorgeous young huntress, do we get a spin on tradition.
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In memory of my grandmother,

Ruth Earnshaw Lo

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Aisling's mother died at midsummer.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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From Barnes and Nobel

SynopsisIn 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.
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In this variation on the Cinderella story, Ash grows up believing in the fairy realm that the king and his philosophers have sought to suppress, until one day she must choose between a handsome fairy cursed to love her and the King's Huntress whom she loves.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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