Review of Ash by Malinda Lo

Read: 12th November 2017 – 13th November 2017

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spoilers in review: No

This novel is a retelling of Cinderella, so you already know the bare bones of the story. When 12-year-old Ash’s mother dies, it isn’t long before her father remarries. His new wife has two daughters around Ash’s age, and she doesn’t seem to like Ash very much. When her father dies not long after this, the stepmother doesn’t delay too long before making Ash her unpaid servant.

This book is beautiful. It was an utter joy to read. It reads like a classic fairytale, which I adored. One of the prime positions in the Court is that of the Royal Huntress, who has apparently always been female throughout the Kingdom’s history. I loved that so much. Also, there was no hint of homophobia in sight. None at all !! I need more books like this in my life.

Ash herself is a great character. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to someone, even in small ways, and she does this time and again like it’s nothing. She remains kind throughout and proves that she’s intelligent as well. I really enjoyed reading about her.

One thing that’s kinda annoying about the original Cinderella story is that the fairy godmother appears to come out of nowhere and gifts Cinderella without asking for anything in return. This novel includes fairies from the very start, so when Ash has her wishes granted by one it fits the narrative a lot more smoothly. Also, the fairies shown and discussed in this novel are a lot closer to traditional fairies, not the sparkly ones showcased by Disney or the Rainbow Magic series (I hold nothing against these franchises, but their portrayals of fairies are undeniably cutesy and tame). Fairies are not nice, and you should not mess around with them.

I greatly appreciated the discussion of fairy tales within this book. It was pretty meta, which is always fun. But also Ash’s opinion on fairy tales closely echoes my own. Happy endings are great and all, and is definitely something that this novel has, but these stories were originally closer to being cautionary tales. The lessons tended to boil down to ‘be nice and don’t do stupid things’ but the point still stands. It was really nice to see this view discussed.

In summary, this is a brilliant book. If you like Cinderella, traditional fairies, or fairytales in general, then I highly recommend it. I also recommend this if you want to read something that does not bury its gays, because this definitely has a very happy ending!

Review originally written in 2017

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Hive

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