Ash (Malinda Lo)

I’ve now been on holiday three days, and visited two states, two bookshops, bought book socks and reluctantly had to put back a planets and galaxies dress.

I read Ash on my flight to the US. It was a long flight. I also watched Coco (Which was an absolutely amazing film!). To summarise Ash by Malinda Lo, it was an easy middle grade-ish novel. This was another book from the call for f/f fiction on Tumblr.

Ash is a Cinderella re-telling with added magic. When Ash’s mother dies they perform rites so the fairies can’t take her after death. Then her stepmother arrives and there is a fairy taking an interest in Ash. Then her dad dies and they move to a different estate and Ash and the fairy man become companions walking through the woods while Ash isn’t doing her chores. I think Ash gets a crush. Then, one day, Ash comes across a hunting party, lead by the kings huntress (all huntress are women in this book). Ash and Kaisa (the huntress) become friends, sneaking around when the step-family are in the capital chasing the newly returned Prince for his hand in marriage. Ash makes a wish of her fairy to go to the hunt, and then to a ball and has to pay the price of entering a bargain with a fairy.

This book is very… It’s a little hard to find the right word – I think simple comes to mind quickest. It follows a very familiar story, except Ash has a temper and basically the fairy guy friend is there to take her back to the house whenever she’s left for a break. Ash is desperate to go to fairy, and the friend is constantly rescuing her from fairy circles when she’s decided that fairy can’t be worse than her current situation. He always says she isn’t ready and takes her back to the awful house. So not much of a fairy friend really. When Ash meets Kaisa he gets disgruntled especially as Ash starts to spent more time with Kaisa when her family are gone. Kaisa teaches her to ride and hunt and knows that Ash is a servant and returns anyway.

The Prince is hunt loving, having spent the previous 5 years in war and returned to the country for his parents to find him a bride. He’s really only there to provide a first-season hunt (that Ash wishes to go to- and attends alongside Kaisa) and a masquerade (that Ash wishes to attend, ends up dancing with him and then hating the bargin she made with the fairies). At no point is the Prince really considered a romantic interest – she attends these events because Kaisa invites her.

That’s my commentary of the plot dealt with. It’s easy reading. The characters were equally easy to read. This book is third person Ash’s point of view, with a few asides to the fairy friend with an Irish name as he (creepily) watched Ash. Ash has a temper and believes in fairies and fairy lore, but I wasn’t too attached to her. It really felt like I was reading a fairy tale from an anthology – the ones where you enjoy them but you remember the story more than the characters. It makes it an easy read with an easy plot.

One of the best bits of the plot is that the Huntress is always a woman, and there is no judgement if the Huntress’s lover is a women. In fact, given the fairy tales Kaisa tells Ash, lesbian Huntresses are quite common in this society. Everyone is really cool with the girlfriends, and Lore (Kaisa’s apprentice) is more concerned that Ash is a golddigger than anything else. There is also the friendship between Ash and a servant in the city townhouse. The servant becomes a friend, and she is obsessed with finding love and getting married. She and Ash have a rather one sided conversation, where the friend is talking about men and Ash is getting confused because she is realising that she doesn’t think of men that way and Kaisa keeps popping in her head. It’s a cute scene and a cute friendship, because in the house in the city, Ash isn’t alone and the whole household takes some of the weight of the stepmother’s demands.

Ok to summarise, this was cute but easy to read and actually perfect for reading on the flight, having had about 4 hours sleep in more than 24 hours. I gave it ⭐⭐⭐ on Goodreads but it was a middle grade novel and I probably won’t read it again.

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