Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ash Review

Book talk:  Ash should have known better.  And perhaps she would have, if her mother had lived long enough to teach her the old ways.  But her mother did not live and she did not learn, so she spent nights by her graveside, attracting the attention of fairies.  Fairies may be beautiful and alluring, but they have little regard for human life and can be very dangerous.  For most people, attracting their attention would be disastrous, but for Ash fairies are the least of her problems.  When her father died soon after her mother, she was taken from her home to live as a servant to her step mother and sisters.  When life is barely worth living, you don't mind a little danger.  Then, Ash meets someone that makes her glad to be alive and she risks it all for one night of happiness, for a ball.  Will she be able to break free of all who make claims on her and be home before the magic wears off?

Rocks my socks:  Reading Ash was like discovering the Cinderella story all over again.  The world was similar to the classic fairy tale setting, but far richer.  Everything in the story is on edge.  The world is shifting from an age of magic to an age of reason.  Fairies still exist, but they are not what they used to be. Ash's family life keeps reaching the edge and toppling over only to regain its balance and topple once more. The huntress class straddled two worlds as well.  I enjoyed seeing how this strong female leader was necessary in the typically masculine hunting rite while other women in society remained relatively powerless. My favorite thing about the novel was the way Lo took a traditional fairy tale and subverted the assumptions that went along with it.  In most stories the supernatural figure that stalks the female lead creepily for years would be the love interest.  Or the handsome prince that falls for the lowly servant girl.  But by having Ash fall in love with someone else, someone who makes her feel strong and encourages her to pursue her strengths instead of someone looking to protect her so she can remain weak, Lo shows us just how messed up many of these traditional stories are.

Rocks in my socks: As much as I love all the added world-building and new plot developments, when I sit down to read a Cinderella story I expect to spend a fair amount of time at a ball.  The beginning of the book had a very languid pace while not much was happening, which I didn't mind except that as more things began happening the narration went too fast and glossed over events.  It seems like the reader is privy to everything that happens to Ash at the ball, but if that's true she hardly spends any time there.  Considering how much she's risking to go there it doesn't seem worth it.  Can't I have a modern feminist slant and long descriptions of pretty dresses and dancing?  Is that too much to ask?

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of fairy tales retold and strong female leads.  It's also a great book for anyone looking for GLBTQ fantasy.  The violence and romance are mostly implied, so I'd say it's safe for 6th grade and up.


Malinda Lo has a great website with a blog, a bio (with a picture of her adorable dog), and more

Lo's site also has a page specifically for Ash with an FAQ, map, playlist for the book, etc.

Malinda Lo has a trailer for the book:

There's a great fan trailer as well:

Source: Purchased

Ash by Malinda Lo: Buy it or check it out today!

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