Review: AshAuthor: Malinda LoGenre: LGBTQ, young adult; fairytale retellingMy Rating: ★★★ 1/2
____
When her father died, Aisling’s—Ash’s—world is turned upside down. Her  stepmother, Lady Isobel, is cruel to her, and her stepsisters are not exactly  fond of her. Ash is forced to work as a servant for her stepfamily, and she  could only hope for someone to take her away from her miserable life.
Sounds familiar? It might, but this is not the fairytale you remember—it’s  not the story of Disney’s ultimate damsel in distress who waits for Prince  Charming to come by and hand her the happy-ever-after she longs for. In this  retelling, instead of falling in love with a dashing prince, the dreamy, pretty  orphan becomes smitten with the King’s feisty huntress, Kaisa.
You read that right. It’s Cinderella with a lesbian twist.
The strongest point of this book, for me, is the elegant unfolding of love  between the two women and the society’s reaction (or lack thereof) to their  budding relationship. The bottom line of the novel is not that the  Cinderella figure is a lesbian, it is that no one cares that she is a  lesbian. With that concept as a backbone, Malinda Lo managed to create this  loose retelling sans the ‘coming out’ vibes that most LGBTQ titles possess.
The coming-of-age part of the book molds Ash well into a believable  character, but she’s not particularly a likable one. While Ash only raises  herself a step from being a total ingénue, Kaisa is portrayed as a stronger and  more mannish character that completes what Ash lacks. Oh, I forgot to mention  that there’s a bizarre love triangle here, and you’ll be surprised who makes the  third side of it: the fairy godmother figure from the original tale…except that  this time he’s a cruel Fairy Prince cursed to love a human girl (I really love  the gender-bending bits!). Characterization of the antagonists came off as a  little ‘bedtime story’ conventional, and to me they feel a stage short of being  inflated into fully-realized characters. But in fairness to Lo, she suggests  that Ash’s older stepsister only forces herself to marry a wealthy man just to  make themselves a kisby ring, not wanting to sink into poverty, given the  existing social strata in their world.
That takes us to the world-building—which is amazing. I love the complexities  of Ash’s world, from the smallest fireside stories to the traditions of  Rook Hill and the King’s City. Side by side, greenwitches and philosophers  exist, a prevalent science vs. magic feel that helps shapes Lo’s universe. I  also tremendously enjoyed the fables and myths that are deftly intertwined with  the main story; they’re like gems embedded in a layer of less-precious stones.  If they are invented by Lo, I’ll never know, but they sound authentic and they  carry some shades of Brothers Grimm in them.
This is a good book, but if you are a sucker for retellings that are  fast-paced, gripping, and out of the ordinary, Ash may not be your cup  of tea. There is a lot to like about this novel, but there is something about  the narration that does not quite click with me. The descriptions are  beautifully dreamy and lush, but they make the transitions from scene to scene a  tad slow. Other than that, I think this is a nice treat for fable-lovers and for  queer people. After all, gays need fairytales, too.
___
a little trivia: Cinderella comes from the name “cendrillon,” which in French literally  means “little ashes,” so I think Lo’s choice for her protagonist’s (nick)name  matches this. Some sources also say that the girl in Cinderella is  originally named Ella and she is almost always covered in soot/cinders from cleaning.  This is used by Lo as well, as for many times Ash sleeps by the hearth and ends  up coated with ashes and soot when she wakes up.

Review: Ash
Author: Malinda Lo
Genre: LGBTQ, young adult; fairytale retelling
My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

____

When her father died, Aisling’s—Ash’s—world is turned upside down. Her stepmother, Lady Isobel, is cruel to her, and her stepsisters are not exactly fond of her. Ash is forced to work as a servant for her stepfamily, and she could only hope for someone to take her away from her miserable life.

Sounds familiar? It might, but this is not the fairytale you remember—it’s not the story of Disney’s ultimate damsel in distress who waits for Prince Charming to come by and hand her the happy-ever-after she longs for. In this retelling, instead of falling in love with a dashing prince, the dreamy, pretty orphan becomes smitten with the King’s feisty huntress, Kaisa.

You read that right. It’s Cinderella with a lesbian twist.

The strongest point of this book, for me, is the elegant unfolding of love between the two women and the society’s reaction (or lack thereof) to their budding relationship. The bottom line of the novel is not that the Cinderella figure is a lesbian, it is that no one cares that she is a lesbian. With that concept as a backbone, Malinda Lo managed to create this loose retelling sans the ‘coming out’ vibes that most LGBTQ titles possess.

The coming-of-age part of the book molds Ash well into a believable character, but she’s not particularly a likable one. While Ash only raises herself a step from being a total ingénue, Kaisa is portrayed as a stronger and more mannish character that completes what Ash lacks. Oh, I forgot to mention that there’s a bizarre love triangle here, and you’ll be surprised who makes the third side of it: the fairy godmother figure from the original tale…except that this time he’s a cruel Fairy Prince cursed to love a human girl (I really love the gender-bending bits!). Characterization of the antagonists came off as a little ‘bedtime story’ conventional, and to me they feel a stage short of being inflated into fully-realized characters. But in fairness to Lo, she suggests that Ash’s older stepsister only forces herself to marry a wealthy man just to make themselves a kisby ring, not wanting to sink into poverty, given the existing social strata in their world.

That takes us to the world-building—which is amazing. I love the complexities of Ash’s world, from the smallest fireside stories to the traditions of Rook Hill and the King’s City. Side by side, greenwitches and philosophers exist, a prevalent science vs. magic feel that helps shapes Lo’s universe. I also tremendously enjoyed the fables and myths that are deftly intertwined with the main story; they’re like gems embedded in a layer of less-precious stones. If they are invented by Lo, I’ll never know, but they sound authentic and they carry some shades of Brothers Grimm in them.

This is a good book, but if you are a sucker for retellings that are fast-paced, gripping, and out of the ordinary, Ash may not be your cup of tea. There is a lot to like about this novel, but there is something about the narration that does not quite click with me. The descriptions are beautifully dreamy and lush, but they make the transitions from scene to scene a tad slow. Other than that, I think this is a nice treat for fable-lovers and for queer people. After all, gays need fairytales, too.

___

a little trivia: Cinderella comes from the name “cendrillon,” which in French literally means “little ashes,” so I think Lo’s choice for her protagonist’s (nick)name matches this. Some sources also say that the girl in Cinderella is originally named Ella and she is almost always covered in soot/cinders from cleaning. This is used by Lo as well, as for many times Ash sleeps by the hearth and ends up coated with ashes and soot when she wakes up.

  1. decorationmariage reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes
  2. biting-brice reblogged this from fuckyeahlesbianliterature and added:
    Want
  3. windreaver reblogged this from gingersolidarity
  4. gingersolidarity reblogged this from fuckyeahlesbianliterature
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  6. clickclaire reblogged this from fuckyeahlesbianliterature
  7. fuckyeahlesbianliterature reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes and added:
    [image description: a photo of the book Ash by Malinda Lo. The book is on a white tablecloth (?) with red embroidered at...
  8. ladyteleute reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes and added:
    lesbian cinderella? me want!!! Haha. I love back-reading the posts of this girl right here ^
  9. flefla reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes and added:
    I saw the promotional reviewers copy at the library, in their sale bin… The story line caught my eye, but now where does...
  10. queenofthedalekland reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes
  11. i-wear-the-cheese said: Even though you only gave it 3.5 stars, I’m now intrigued by your description of the intertwined myths and fables so I may just have to read it to see how this is done :) . (Useful review, thanks!)
  12. thepaintedsquirrel reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes
  13. booksliveforever reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes
  14. getbookwormed reblogged this from goodbookers
  15. writeyournameinblood reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes and added:
    on my to-read, baby!
  16. drumbeatsofyourheart said: this deserves to be on my to-read list!
  17. goodbookers reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes
  18. hilegunslinger reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes
  19. shindiary said: whoa.. according to a book i’ve read, the name Cinderella was from the word ‘cinders’, since she was always to clean cinders in their house… . . i think this trivia’s more believable than that, though. .^^
  20. veraverorum reblogged this from cinderellainrubbershoes and added:
    To put on “to read” list