I admit it. I'm a shallow person. I bought Ash by Malinda Lo simply for that gorgeous cover. I sort of knew it was a retelling of Cinderella, but that's really all I knew. (that and a lot of book bloggers read it) If I'd know it was about fairies, I probably wouldn't have bothered.
I'm not big into fairy books. I hated Tithe by Holly Black, I lost interest in the Melissa Marr books after Ink Exchange. There's just something about fairies, and I don't know what it is. They annoy me. And while the fairies are the main bit in Ash that makes things different (Ash's 'fairy godmother' is actually Sidhean, a male fairy who will grant wishes but for a steep price) , I didn't mind them. Much. The other main difference in Ash is the new love interest. I really don't want to spoil it for anyone, so if you haven't read Ash and would like to, *look away now.* ...It's a woman.
Ash starts off pretty slowly. You meet Ash and her father, who are both grieving over the death of her Ash's mother. Her father remarries, her step-mother and two step-sisters aren't thrilled with Ash and eventually, Ash's father also dies. Ash acts as a servant to her step-family and reads books of fairy tales that reminds her of a happier time with her parents. Meanwhile, she begins this tenuous friendship with Sidhean, this fairy from the forest. He seems to offer her an escape from the drudgery of servitude and her step-family's obsessive wish to marry the two step-sisters off to wealthy men. And then she meets the Huntress, Kaisa.
I liked Ash, I really did. But there was still something about it that I didn't fully connect with. I think it might be Ash, herself. She seems like a character I should like - she has the strength to put up with her 'wicked' step-mother, she makes her own choices, she's not the type of girl who needs rescuing from the Prince. And yet.
I did love the inclusion of so many fairy tales. And the relationship between Ash and Kaisa. It's always nice to see such an accepted and incredibly sweet same-sex relationship in books. Gay relationships don't always need to be portrayed with such negativity and with all the pressure and weight of it being against the norm.
Ash was a quick fun read on a sunny afternoon. Up next for fairy-tale retellings is Beastly by Alex Finn, and in the near future, Zel by Donna Jo Napoli.
What do you think of fairy tale retellings? Do you have a favourite?