Series or stand alone: stand alone, as far as I am aware
Genre: young adult, fantasy, fairytale, glbtq
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Blurb: 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.
First line: Aisling’s mother died at midsummer.
Reason for reading: I am a sucker for fairytales and this a version of Cinderella. This also counts towards the GLBTQ challenge.
Gorgeous! I have a serious case of cover lust. I own the US hardback version as, when it was released, I had no clue as to whether it was going to get a UK release. The UK paperback is very different but no less beautiful. It is far more metallic in person than on a computer screen. I don’t know about the UK publication, but in the US edition the start of each chapter has some lovely letterwork.
I enjoyed this. Fairytale reinterpretations are nothing new or unique but by making the main character a lesbian it had an edge than some stories lack. This was well written, with an otherworldly feel about it, and Ash herself is a wonderful character who deals with a lot throughout this book. If you haven’t yet read it, do so.
Thoughts – with spoilers: My mind is in a bit of a jumble trying to write this review. I very much liked the book but I don’t know what to say about it, so slightly scrambled thoughts ahead.
I’ll start with the writing, I think. This reads like a proper fairytale in a way some retellings fail to do. It was full of beautiful phrases and passages, be it descriptions of everyday things or the extraordinary, such as seeing the fairies in the woods for the first time:
- They were grand and beautiful and frightening – the horses’ heads shining white, their eyes burning like a blacksmith’s forge. The riders, too, were nothing like she had ever seen before: ethereal men and women with pale visages, their cheekbones so sharply sculpted that she could see their skulls through translucent skin. They surrounded her and looked at her steely blue eyes, each gaze an arrow staking her to that spot, and she could not close her eyes though the sight of them made her eyes burn as if she were looking at the sun.
Ash wasn’t my favourite character though, that was Kaisa, the King’s Huntress. I don’t know why I liked her so much; maybe it was her self-assurance, her gentle wooing of Ash. Likely, it was the fact that she didn’t feel the need to rescue Ash with all guns a-blazing. She allowed Ash to save herself.
In place of the fairy godmother of the Disney version (what was it in the original version? I haven’t read it in at least a decade) we have a fairy, er, godfather named Sidhean (I’m fairly certain it’s pronounced Sean or Shane, my understanding of Gaelic is about half a dozen words and random pronunciation know how).They form a sort of bizarre companionship, almost a friendship, one which Ash gains some comfort from. I wasn’t a fan of Sidhean it has to be said. There was something a tad hinky about him, although it turns out he was cursed to fall in love with a human, but they eventually strike a deal allowing Ash to be with her beloved.
All of the Cinderella traits are in the story: evil stepmother, ugly stepsisters, the ball, the running away (from Kaisa this time, not the prince) and the being home by midnight. The glass slipper is replaced by a cloak although Kaisa knows who it belongs to. It was a lovely little book.
But the best thing about the novel? The fact that Ash saved herself. She didn’t need Prince Charming, or in this case the King’s Huntress, to save her, she was quite capable of doing it herself, thank you very much. That sends out the most powerful message of all.
Challenge stuff: Five G, three L, one B and two T from GLBTQ.
Currently reading: Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron.