Review Detail4.2 8
Malinda Lo's Ash is
a stunning debut! The story, the characters, the world comes alive like
Lo has sprinkled it with fairy dust. It's pretty safe to judge Ash by its cover; the beautiful cover is fairly indicative of the interior. With Ash, Lo has taken the basic threads that comprise the timeless tale of Cinderella, rewoven them, and like the fairy godmother, waved her magic pen and transformed a pumpkin into a magnificent coach.
of the things that stands out the most is definitely Lo's writing
style. The diction choice, the phrasing, the tone... there's something
especially melodic about her descriptions, almost achingly beautiful in
"The rhythm was echoed
in the sound of her mother's fingers on the fabric of her dress, a
subtle swoosh in the dark, up and down, up and down, the friction like
a rope binding them together" (Lo 74).
the ethereal descriptions, the setting really comes alive, immersing
the audience in Ash's world. Something about the voice - Lo has
captured the fairy tale tone almost perfectly. There are moments where
the language does seem a little reminiscent of the present, but that
also draws the reader closer into the alternate realm. Over the years,
various retellings of Cinderella have cropped up (e.g. Ella Enchanted, Just Ella, etc.), but there have been none like this. Ash is something else entirely; Lo has practically created a whole new fairy tale.
And throughout the course of Ash,
there are various fairy tales that are part of Ash's world. These I
found to be a very nice touch, and added realism, but also irony. They
were very enjoyable mini-stories to explore. At 264 pages, Ash
could have seen a little more character development with addition of a
couple extra pages, but then again, some removal from the audience may
be needed to maintain the fairy tale aura. In any case - Ash, Kaisa,
Sidhean, the stepsisters... all very intriguing and well-written
Not only that, but the relationships between the characters were conveyed very nicely as well. Ash is quoted as being "a lesbian retelling of Cinderella",
but it's also so much more than that. It's a new sort of fairy tale
(that could potentially spark a revival?), a story of loss, love, and
life. The relationship that forms between Ash and Kaisa is very pure,
very beautiful. The situation between Ash and Sidhean and the
surrounding circumstances were a very nice - albeit sad and ironic -
It seems the fairies must've aided with casting spells, because Ash is a spellbinding debut. Lo has created a truly remarkable story here - a real fairy tale.