Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ash

 I had no idea what this book was about when I first opened it - and only a vague idea why I'd put it on hold at my library.  Presumably I read a review from one of your blogs and added it to my list - but since I rarely read more than the sentence or two from the cover flap - if that - I went in with no idea what to expect.  And it turned out that was a fabulous way to become drawn into this story.

It didn't take more than a few pages for me to realize that this is a retelling of the Cinderella story.  And I must admit that I was a tad disappointed when I first understood that, fearing it would be trotting out the same old story to the usual inevitable conclusion, as it's been done so many times before.  Soon, though, I became interested in Ash's unique personality and the unusual relationship she has with what appears to be a faery, menacing or beneficent - it's hard to tell.

Then the story veers away from the expected, with a delightful twist and a change of direction that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I found this to be a welcome addition to my favorite fairytale retellings.  The language was lyrical and evocative, with a definite once-upon-a-time feeling, but the characters are much more complex and real than their two-dimensional fairytale counterparts.  Ash's stepsisters aren't thoroughly evil and spiteful characters for simple sake of the storyline.  They can be unpleasant, but we see their shortcomings in the perspective of their own difficulties in life and how they are attempting to cope with them.  I also enjoyed the romance, the believable development of love between characters, rather than a more superficial love-at-first sight.  I look forward to reading more of Malinda Lo's work.

Ash by Malinda Lo (Little, Brown and Company, 2009)

Source:  My local public library

Also reviewed at:
Rhinoa's Ramblings:  "One of my most enjoyed books so far this year and I am so glad the cover was pretty enough to catch my eye as I might have missed it otherwise."
The Story Siren:  "What a outstanding debut novel! Malinda Lo absolutely blew me away. The writing was elegant, beautifully lyrical."
Things Mean a Lot:  "...the world of Ash is complex and fully realized. It's very much its own thing, but it reminded me of the worlds of The Goose Girl or Ella Enchanted, two of my favourite fairy tale retellings."

10 comments:

  1. Odd, this is a book that I saw a lot of when it came out, but I never really paid attention to it. I don't know why. And then just this summer another blog I read wrote about it and for some reason the review caught my attention and I was suddenly very eager to find out more about the story. Now you're writing about it and that seals the deal! I will have to pick up ASH very soon and give it a read!

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  2. I am totally going to read this...thanks for the review.

    I just finished a great retelling of Cinders by Michelle Davidson Argyle, a very different take on Cinderella after the marriage to the Prince...kind of dark and foreboding and a not so happily ever after...a great read also!

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  3. oops I meant to say in my last post...a great retelling of Cinderella called "Cinders"...silly me! ;)

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  4. I think I'm going to read this book just based on the cover - it's beautiful!

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  5. I loved "The Goose Girl," which I recently reviewed, so I'm sure I'll love this!

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  6. Cat - I love your new pic! And I do think you'll enjoy this. I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Emily - I hadn't head of Cinders - thanks for the recommendation!

    Rachel - I agree - the cover is arresting, isn't it?!

    Middleschoolbookreviews - I loved The Goose Girl. This one has a more dreamlike quality to it, but I think if you enjoyed that, you'll enjoy this as well.

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  7. Glad you liked this too. I really enjoyed the deviations from the standard tale, it really added to the story.

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  8. Rhinoa - I agree! And I was so glad I didn't know much at all about the book, so it was doubly enjoyable when the story took that unexpected turn.

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  9. I'd seen this book around but had no real idea what it was about - I think I'd dismissed it based on the similarity of the cover to so so so many other teen novels out there. Now that I know it's a Cinderella retelling, I'm off to my wishlist -- I love fairy tale retellings!

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  10. Fyrefly - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! I'll be on the lookout for your review one of these days.

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