Ash

AshAsh by Malinda Lo
Genre: Fantasy, Fairies, Young-Adult, Romance
Published: March 4th 2010 by Hodder Children’s
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:

This one is a strange one. I enjoyed the book, but I felt like we had too much mystery about it by the end. Ash is a different type of young-adult novel and I really appreciate how the romance wasn’t at the forefront of the tale. Not only that, but Lo tackles the idea of homosexuality, so you should be aware that Ash touches on the lesbian area. However, this didn’t take away anything from the story and as a read, I actually liked that aspect of the story. Prejudice people will condemn Lo for this, but I think she intertwines it wonderfully with the story and it makes for a lovely ending!

I felt like the first part entitled “The Fairy” was all mysterious and left us with lots of questions, whilst the plot was slowly picking up a pace. Then we fall into part two which makes up the two divides of the novel. The second part is called “The Huntress” and as I’d presumed we veered away from many of the questions posed in part one since Lo took us in a new direction. My problem with this came when we never truly touched on the issues that we saw in part one, and whilst some of our questions may have been answered, Lo left too many questions dangling for my liking. I realise that she may have liked to leave mystery and cared not to further the novel which ended at a very nice point, but it certainly frustrated me and left me pondering.

My greatest praise for Lo is that at no point coming up to the end did I truly know what was going to happen! I may have guessed the direction of the story, but Lo had left so many different threads that I really daren’t presume the outcome and I liked this. I find sometimes reading young-adult novels that they can become too predictable.

On the other hand, Lo’s writing was simplistic and I’d suggest this book be aimed at the younger age spectrum of teens and whilst as adults you may enjoy it, this book is unlikely to broaden your mind in the literature aspect. Such as…

She had dreamed that same dream many times over the course of the winter, but in recent days, it had become insistent.

From the cover I first thought this book seemed very “Alice in Wonderland” and was quite excited to read, since I adore Alice. However, then I saw the word “stepmother” and I began to read. As the tale unfolds, I realised that this was very much not an Alice in Wonderland style story but a fairy-tale recreation of Cinderella. It had the prince, the mean step-mother, the two step-sisters and Ash as the maid. I myself adore Disney films and all the old classics, so this brought back some fond memories. I don’t think the Cinderella style aspect was overdone and the story did take its own direction with the fairy realm and fantasy aspects.

Ash was a very weak character to begin with, but I’m glad to see that she finally made some firm decisions by the end of the book in all aspects of her life. That’s probably why I enjoyed the ending so much because Ash gained firm ground. Whilst throughout the book I failed to make real connection with her because she seemed a little limp and I wanted to shake her with anger. She just seemed to wander and always be searching for something and never working out real answers. This annoyed me because I wanted her to be smart enough to find the answers! I liked her character, but she wasn’t one I put into my top ten favourites.

Sidhean is a man or a fairy who I always felt had more substance. I was waiting for something from him that never came. I suppose this wasn’t Lo’s intended direction, but I still wish this man had given us more answers. He continually eluded me until the end. I liked his character, but I wanted more. His sinister edge was definitely there which really drew me in, but I suppose he wasn’t the ‘love rival’ I should have been rooting for in this instance.

He smoothed her hair back from her face, cupping her chin in his hands, and she was forced to look up at him, his eyes like crystals glittering in the dark. ‘I do not trust human girls,’ he said.

However, one character I hated was her step-mother who was entirely deplorable! She was somebody I’d like to take a crossbow too she was that mean and abusive. Her actions could never be condoned. She makes the step-mother of Cinderella seem like an angel. The step-sisters didn’t get any better and they really made for some snooty villains who deserved everything bad that should come to them. I assure you that you will not and cannot like the step-mother in anyway. Whilst Clara the younger sister may have her redeemable moment, her lack of action is rather inexcusable.

I enjoyed the general plot and this was an easy read at just under 300 pages with quite large print. The fairy aspect I liked and the kingdom Ash resided in which made for a medieval feel, which I feel is a strong part of most of the fantasy I read. I really like the old kingdom, hunting, kings and queens aspect because it reminds me of historical aspects, which is my favourite subject. In addition to this, all the fairy-tales that were interwoven with the tale really added to the historical aspect and I loved that!

‘It is about one of the earliest huntresses in the kingdom, Niamh, who was the daughter of a powerful greenwitch. When the King chose Niamh as his huntress, he asked her to teach his daughter, Rois, to hunt, for he valued Niamh’s knowledge and wanted Rois to know his hands his lands as well as Niamh did. Rois was a beautiful young woman, sweet and strong, and Niamh was impressed with her abilities. As they rode together week after week, month after month, Niamh found that she was falling in love with Rois, and her heart ached, for Rois was promised to the prince of a neighbouring kingdom, and she loved him, it is said, with a purity of heart that Niamh could not change.’

This has to be the favourite of the fairy-tales, which happens to be Kaisa’s too. It’s probably because of the irony of the love tale. Kaisa becomes one of my favourite characters because she’s emotional and undeterred by Ash’s status and she represents that love is love no matter the station or gender. I feel like Lo sends a very important message with this statement.

Overall I enjoyed this book a lot! I found it a quick, simple read that tackled a couple of important issues, whilst not quite fulfilling all the desires I had for it and it really confused me with the fairies, which I didn’t quite like. I’d suggest giving this book a chance, and I think I’ll be taking a look at the prequel of shorts, Huntress.

My Rating:

3.5 books

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9 Comments

Filed under 2010 Publication, 3.5 Books, Fairies, Fantasy, Hodder Children's Books, Malinda Lo, Paperback, Romance, Young Adult

9 responses to “Ash

  1. This is a great review! I never really considered this book before but it looks like it is worth a shot. I like that the romance isn’t at the forefront of the book like it tends to be in some young adult books. Shame it didn’t blow you away but I’m glad you mostly liked it. 🙂

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Thank you, Sam! Yes, definitely have to agree on that point with you! I hope you enjoy it, if you decide to pick this book up! 🙂

  2. This sounds like the kind of book I would like. I enjoy retelling of classic fairytales with a twist! 🙂

  3. I hate rooting for one love interest when you find out that’s not the way the story’s meant to go! I usually don’t like fairy books much but glad you found this one enjoyable overall. Great review Olivia. 🙂

    • Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews

      Yes, it is rather annoying. However, I did love the end love interest too. I just think I was more intrigued as to the direction the other one could take and the potential it could have. Thanks again, Rachel! 🙂

  4. mollyspring

    Thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful review.

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday (3) |

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