Review Detail4.2 8
Ash is one
of those books that seemed to catch like wildfire in the blogosphere.
One day, you've never heard of it, and the next, it's everywhere, and
you have to read it. And like most suddenly ubiquitous books, I have mixed feelings...
is a non-traditional retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale. Ash is a
young girl who loses her parents and finds herself thrust into the care
of her newly made family: a callous step-mother and distant, spoiled
step-sisters. She is removed from her distant home village and all it's
country traditions and beliefs to a city near the capitol, where fairy
tales really are just tales, and everything Ash has always believed and
pursued is laughed at or looked down on.
But Ash finds herself the
object of attention of a very unusual being named Sidhean, and though
she likes this attention, she finds herself torn between Sidhean and
the King's huntress, Kaisa. Both have the ability to drastically change
Sounds good, right? I was super excited for a number
of reasons. 1) I love fairy tale retellings. 2) I was intrigued by a
Cinderella with a LGBT slant. 3) EVERYONE seemed to be raving about
this. 4) The cover close up is gorgeous, and I am a sucker for a good
cover, we all know that.
And though I did like this, I like it with reservations, so I'm going to break this into two parts of each aspect: the good (fairy) and the bad (fairy).
Aspect One: Ash
The Good (fairy): I loved watching Ash develop.
It's the Cinderella story at it's core: you watch a
charming/pretty/intelligent girl who doesn't realize what she's capable
of, or what the world holds for her blossom into the woman she is meant
to be. When Sidhean enters the story, Ash perks up a bit, but when
Kaisa comes in, she blooms, and the story is truly enjoyable from then
The Bad (fairy):
Kaisa doesn't enter the story until quite a ways in, and until then,
it's not nearly as enjoyable. It's not that it's ever really bad, but I
didn't find myself drawn in, nothing really came alive until Kaisa,
except for the brief moments with Sidhean.
Aspect Two: Love
The Good (fairy):
One of my absolute favorite things about this, and one of the best
decisions I think Lo made while crafting this story, is how she dealt
with the idea of love.
I know there are people who will worry when they hear it is a gay
retelling of Cinderella, and they will think that it's going to hit you
over the head with it, or be anti-straight, or try to "convert" you, or
some other equally ridiculous thing. Of course, it did not do that.
What Lo created was a world where love is love. When Kaisa and Ash
begin to find themselves drawn to each other, they are not looked down
upon. Attraction is attraction, people are people, love is love. There
is also some nice pull and ambiguity between the three: Ash is drawn to
Sidhean, who is a man, as well as Kaisa, who is a woman, and no issue
is ever made of that. I liked that aspect a lot, and it was handled
The Bad (fairy): is a spoiler*, so if you want to know, it's at the bottom.
Aspect Three: Language and Writing
The Good (fairy):
There are times when this flows beautifully, and when Ash's world is
completely engaging and light. As I said before, this is mostly when
Kaisa comes into the story.
Through much of the story, I think the writing is writing. I wouldn't put it heavily on one side (good) or the other (bad).
The Bad (fairy): Mostly, though,
I wanted more from the writing. I kept waiting for something to really
stop me in my tracks or take my breath away. I am a quote person, and I
tab things that catch my fancy. I didn't feel a need to tab. Ash's
narration felt disengaged and overly formal, especially for a sort of
backwoods girl. There was a stilted feel, and I had a hard time at
first getting into the story because I just didn't find the narration
engaging. Also, I felt like Lo didn't take full advantage of
everything. Things could have been more: taut/exciting/powerful, but
they were sometimes glossed over or let slide. Now, I know some of this
is pickiness on my part, and some people may not notice it at all, but
it irritated me, especially as I saw potential for gems, potential for
great writing, but I didn't get to see that potential fulfilled often
enough. I think Lo will get there, I just don't think she's quite there
Aspect Four: World and story overall.
The Good (fairy):
There were some things (the occasional gems I mentioned) that I just
loved. I already talked about Lo's treatment of love and relationships,
which I enjoyed. I also really liked how "Prince Charming" was
basically ignored. He never did a damn thing, so why give him more page
space. In this, he was basically what I have always suspected, but I'll
leave that to you to see... Also, I really enjoyed the irony** involved
in the situation between Ash and Sidhean and her mother, but that's
another spoiler, so it is way down there.... (where's a down arrow when
you need one?)
The Bad (fairy):
Some elements of the story and the world felt heavily influenced by
other stories/movies, etc (Ever After, Wicked Lovely, Daughter of the
Forest, etc.). Again, not something everyone will notice, and not
necessarily intentional, but it still ate at me.