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Ash by Malinda Lo
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Ash (edition 2010)

by Malinda Lo

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1,1031397,516 (3.6)96
Member:terriko
Title:Ash
Authors:Malinda Lo
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

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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English (138)  German (1)  All languages (139)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
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 |
What drew my interest was the beautiful cover and the heterocentric pearl-clutching I'd seen over this online over bisexual Cinderella. It's as though some people were shaken down to their fundamental because this wasn't the "Original" fairy tale. Given the fact that fairy tales are an oral tradition and versions tend to vary wildly this is a pretty strange outlook, and it got odder. Apparently even today Disney's Cinderella is many people's romantic dream. Well, good for them, they've got their billion-dollar-franchise, and now those whom Cinderella doesn't fit have this book.

I liked the beautiful style, the bisexual characters, that same-sex couples exist, that it has strong female characters and even occasionally people who communicate. I enjoyed what the author does with the fairy world, the dFinisheded love triangle, the fact that there are characters who take the initiative and have plans.

I didn't like the plot holes and moments in which characters went off the rails and acted in unexplained and plainly odd ways that didn't seem in keeping with traits established earlier. ( )
  Mothwing | Jan 4, 2015 |
Reading this book was rather like stepping into a dark and magical forest, full of little hidden secrets and dangerous beauty. I found the most compelling parts of this book were the interactions between Ash and the Huntress, which was where I found the strongest emotional resonance.
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
I rarely use the word hauntingly, but I would describe this story as hauntingly beautiful. It seemed to flow off the page and into my head, creating a lush world while allowing for my imagination to fill in the gaps. I adored the fragile relationships that Ash formed with the fairy and the huntress. All in all, since I love fairy tale retellings, this was an enjoyable read, and worth the time spent. ( )
  kateminasian | Nov 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (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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Dedication
In memory of my grandmother,

Ruth Earnshaw Lo

(1910-2006)
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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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