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Ash Hardcover – September 1, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 227 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September 1, 2009
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An Action-Packed Retelling of a Classic
London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Described as "Cinderella…with a twist," Ash is in many ways the familiar fairy tale about a girl's move from comfort to despair to true love (with a little help from fairies and magic). Standard Cinderella images set up the story: after losing her mother and later her father, Ash is treated as a servant in the home of an unkind stepmother and two unfriendly stepsisters. She has ties to the fairy world, attends the royal ball in an enchanted dress, catches the eye of the prince, and finds love by the end of the story. However, while structural similarities exist, ideologically Lo's beautiful and dark tale takes the story to a new place. It is not about Ash being found and saved by a charming prince; instead, it is about her courtship with Kaisa, the King's huntress, a relationship that burgeons over time and is based on more than just initial attraction. Despite Ash's grief, oppressive guardianship, and dangerous flirtation with the fairy Sidhean, who promises to steal her away from her sadness, the protagonist finds her own salvation and chooses to live and love in the real world and on her own terms. Ash will appeal to readers looking for GLBTQ titles, but fans of romance, fantasy, and strong female protagonists will also embrace this fine debut novel.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA END


"Somber and lovely. ... Ash feels pulled between two worlds -- the fairy realm, where a haughty prince named Sidhean waits for permission to possess her, and the charmed hours she spends with Kaisa." 
--New York Times

"This debut, a retelling of Cinderella in which the heroine falls in love with a beautiful huntress rather than a prince, should establish Lo as a gifted storyteller. ... Lo's prose is beautiful, her descriptions lush."
--Publishers Weekly

"An unexpected reimagining of the Cinderella tale, exquisite and pristine, unfolding deliberately. ... Beautiful language magically wrought; beautiful storytelling magically told." (starred review) --Kirkus

"Part heart-pounding lesbian romance and part universal coming-of-age story, Lo's powerful tale is richly embroidered with folklore and glittering fairy magic that will draw fans of Sharon Shinn's earthy, herb-laced fantasies."

"A rich and darkly moving tale I couldn't put down. Malinda Lo is an exciting and welcome new voice in YA."―Meg Cabot, bestselling author of The Princess Diaries series

"Cinderella, gorgeously reimagined, captivating and winsome. After you've fallen into the storytelling world of Malinda Lo, the truth of love will transcend the romantic ideal of fairy tales."
Julie Anne Peters, author of Keeping You a Secret and National Book Award Finalist Luna

" This lyrically retold Cinderella tale is not just a beautifully updated fable, but an ode to the transformative power of love."―Cassandra Clare, bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments series

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316040096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316040099
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,184,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Shala Kerrigan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really love re-tellings of classic fairy tales if they are done well, and this is my favorite since Pamela Dean's Tam Lin.
Ash is the Cinderella in the story, and all the elements are there. Magic, fairies, a wicked selfish stepmother, and a Prince who only figures into the story for a moment.
It's a coming of age story, as Ash, who is alone and orphaned makes friends with a fairy who is fascinated with her for reasons she can't understand and with the Royal Huntress. Her step-mother makes her life miserable and she has her moments of escape and love with her friends until she can finally stand for herself and make the choices to make her life better.
The descriptions are lush, and the dialogue is easy and comfortable. The romance in the story is something that builds naturally out of friendship instead of the big crush/fall in love that's entirely too common in YA romance type novels.
I'm highly recommending it to my daughter to read now that I've finished devouring it in less than an evening. It did grab me that hard, that I didn't want to put it down until I was done reading it.
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Here's the deal: I work in a bookstore. As a twenty-something (gay) woman, I more often than not inwardly cringe at the girls who ask me to point them towards new books, and specify that they like things like Twilight. Lo's debut novel, Ash, isn't Twlight. It's the anti-Twilight. And that's exactly why it's so good.

Even though it's a retelling of Cinderella, Ash is more a coming-of-age story than a sappy romance. Torn between the memories of her dead parents and the reality of her cruel stepmother, Aisling finds her escape in the woods she loves and the dangerous fairies that live there. Until she meets Kaisa, the King's huntress, Ash lives as an abused servant by day and a bewitched victim of fairy magic by night.

Now, if this was Twilight, Aisling would fall hopelessly in love with some abusive, mystical stalker who she is "inexplicably drawn to" (I swear, that's the exact wording they use for 90% publisher copies of the YA fantasy-romance dreck pumped out today like candy). But this atmospheric and eerie plot leads to a surprising conclusion -- much different than the classic Cinderella -- but ultimately much more convincing!

The romance in Ash is less purple prose or a storm of clichés and more poignant and touching -- based on friendship, respect and freedom, not an unhealthy attraction to danger. I couldn't put this one down, and I'm glad I didn't: the ending is utterly satisfying and sweet (spoiler: oh, and gay).

As for me, I really enjoy pointing Twilight-addled preteens towards such subversive literature. There's something deliciously ironic with the fact that a healthy, lesbian relationship in teen literature is more controversial than the dozens of abusive, incomprehensible, poorly written "novels" for teens pumped out each day.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Aisling, who goes by Ash in this book, loses her mother at a young age. If her mother had lived, Ash would have learned of fairies and the ways of the greenwitch. Her father didn't believe in such things and neither did her step-mother, closing the door on that path.

After her father's death, Ash lost her place as daughter and was moved into the servant's quarters to pay off his debt. Her only solace was the woods, but she wasn't really alone. Sidhean, opened up a new world, that of the fairies. She also met Kaisa, the King's Huntress, who opened her heart to love.

Told in a Cinderella theme, this isn't your boy/girl young adult love story, but a love that develops between Aisling and Kaisa. In my opinion, ASH is a book long overdue.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After her mother's death, Aisling (aka Ash) is devastated. And she's inconsolable when her remarried father dies, leaving the family with debts that Aisling's new stepmother forces her to pay off with servitude - so much so that she prays the fairies will take her from the human world. That is until she meets Kaisa, the King's huntress. Because Kaisa teaches her to hunt and ride - and most importantly to value life and love again.

I am a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, especially when they follow the recognized formula but bring some sort of new twist to the story. In case you couldn't tell, ASH is a retelling of Cinderella - with more dangerous fairies and a less over-the-top evil stepfamily than the Disney version.

The tale Debut Author Malinda Lo spins is haunting and powerful enough on its own, but she also weaves in various fascinating dark faerie tales that characters tell each other. Much will probably be made of the fact that Aisling falls for a woman instead of the prince, but in the world of ASH's narrative, it feels like the most natural thing in the world and no one even bats an eye.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As rapidly becomes obvious when you read this, this is a re-telling of the Cinderella story. But it's not quite the one you remember from Disney.

Aisling (Ash) is our Cinderella, losing her mother at the age of 13, and her father not long thereafter. There is the traditional step-mother of the original tale, but as depicted here she's not quite an absolutely mean-spirited ogre, but rather truly has a reason for treating Ash as she does. Her step-sisters are still pretty addle-pated, obsessed with their looks and catching a man of means as their ticket to the good life, but here again there's a little more meat placed on the bare bones of this story, as it's not just the prince of the realm that they set their eyes on, but includes the possibility of catching a much older man, considering him to be acceptable merely because he has money, regardless of his character or age, and as such provides some commentary on arranged marriages and the self-imposed bind of people trying to maintain their image and rich lifestyle regardless of the cost.

But beyond these minor revisions, there are two major points of departure from the original. The first is the introduction of the fairy elves, a complete culture in their own right, that used to have a fair amount of regular contact with the 'normal' people, and second is the introduction of the King's Huntress, a nice change from the traditional all-male dominated society of most fantasies. These two items provide the focus for Ash's development, first with her attraction to Sidhean of the elves, and second her attraction to the Kaisa, the current Huntress, which is barely acknowledged by Ash at first, but eventually becomes an overriding force in driving the story to its conclusion.
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