Lo, Malinda. 2009. Ash. Little, Brown. 272 pages.
Aisling's mother died at midsummer.
This one is a retelling of Cinderella with a twist. You may have already heard about that. This book is getting buzz on many blogs. The twist? Our Cinderella heroine falls in love with the huntress. (The prince doesn't even enter into it). That's not to say that the road to happily ever after doesn't have obstacles. But a human prince isn't one of them. No, this love triangle features a fairy, Sidhean. He is the fairy that bargains with her and grants her wishes. And there is a price to be paid for her wishes--her wishing to go to the ball, etc.
Some of the trappings of the traditional Cinderella remain, a young woman, Aisling (or Ash) is being raised by her stepmother alongside two stepsisters. Ash does work hard--taking the place of several servants at least. (Acting as cook and maid, etc.)
What did I like about this one? Well, I liked that Ash liked fairy tales. That her reading of fairy tales shaped her life, who she was and what she wanted. One of her favorite tales involved a woman, Kathleen, becoming so enchanted with the fairy world, with a fairy prince, that she lost herself. (This is found in chapter seven.)
Ash read and re-read the story as if it were a map to her own future. Though she knew it was meant to be a cautionary tale, now that she had seen the fairy, she thought that Kathleen's fate was not so cruel after all. (77)I had a hard time connecting with Ash in a way. For the first half of the novel, Ash is so withdrawn from life, so depressed, so saddened by the loss of her parents, so obsessed with fairy tales and 'old ways' that she's hard to relate to. Her focus seems to be on death and not life.
This could be me, but it felt like we were being told more than shown. Her few encounters with the fairy world seemed a bit lifeless. In all honesty, I had a hard time connecting with this fairy world, with Sidhean. I don't think he was as fleshed out as he could have been. As Ash begins to awaken to life--and part of this is due to her friendship with the Huntress--she becomes a more interesting heroine.
The second half is more compelling, more vivid. Perhaps this is because the author gave more attention to the Huntress? To fleshing her out as a character? To giving her a strong personality and a life of her own?
I had high expectations for this one. I wanted to really like this one. I wanted to be wowed.
I wasn't wowed. Not for the first part. (The novel is divided into two parts: The Fairy and The Huntress.) But the second half of the novel worked for me; with each chapter, I became more and more impressed. The book was wooing me a bit slower than I was expecting, but it did begin to work it's magic on me towards the end.
Other reviews: Presenting Lenore, The Story Siren, Pop Culture Junkie, Zoe's Book Reviews, Melody's Reading Corner, Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf, Steph Su Reads, Patchwork of Books, A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.
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