With her parents both gone, Ash finds herself a servant in the house of her ruthless stepmother and there seems no hope of finding happiness again.
But Ash is unaware of her mother’s legacy, and that it will lead her to a magical place. A place where love, identity and belonging are all waiting ...
Malinda Lo’s debut novel is an imaginative re-telling of Cinderella that combines sensitive storytelling with beautiful writing to incredible effect.
Aisling (known as Ash) is the child of a merchant father who embraces modern philosophy that rejects magic and superstition and a mother raised in the traditional ways of folklore and magic. When her mother dies, Ash’s father soon takes a new wife who brings her two daughters Ana and Clara to live in the family home.
While Ash tries to come to terms with these changes, she becomes aware of a stranger who seems drawn both to her mother’s grave and to Ash herself. When her father dies from a mysterious sickness, Ash’s step-mother reveals that he left considerable debts – debts that she expects Ash to help pay-off. Relegated to the role of servant in her own house, she takes solace through investigating the mysterious stranger – Sidhean – and the role he has in her life and also in the visits of Kaisa, the King’s Huntress who she keeps meeting in the forests around her home.
When the King announces that his son, the Prince is to seek a bride, Ash’s step-mother is quick to put her daughters forward and move the family to the capital where Ash hurtles towards a destiny that no one – not least herself – expects.
Deftly weaving folklore and faeries, ASH takes the feel of the traditional fairytale but puts a modern spin on it – not least the Sapphic storyline, which is handled with great sensitivity and good old-fashioned romance. There’s enough of the original Cinderella story to keep it recognisable and yet the twists are so original as to make it fresh.
Ash is an interesting heroine, compassionate and yet determined not to accept her circumstances. Her quest to get closer to her mother and her upbringing and her growing attraction both to Sidhean and Kaisa is as understandable as her confusion.
All in all it’s a gorgeous read and I’m looking forward to Lo’s next book with great expectation.
An original and beautifully written twist on the Cinderella fairy tale, this is a gorgeous read with a sweetly told lesbian romance. Definitely a must-read.
Cross-posted to cool_teen_reads and yalitlovers.