Sunday, November 7, 2010

Malinda Lo's ASH

I've been trying to track down a copy this book since it came out last year--the gorgeous cover first caught my eye, and when I heard it was a retelling of Cinderella (I'm a sucker for retellings of any kind--fairytales, myths, Jane Austen novels, etc!) with LGBT themes, my interest was piqued. They finally got it at my local library, and I picked it up this week. It was a lovely read. Today has been frantic with an unconscious stress that had been making my jaw tense and tired all day, but settling into Ash tonight helped everything slowly unwind. It was the perfect kind of retelling--keeping with the spirit of the tale, but taking it to new and unexpected places. Too many modern Cinderella stories are heavy-handed about reversing the problematic gender stereotypes it reproduces, but this one was beautifully written and paced. It was nuanced in all the right places with a story that unfolded naturally. And, you know, with some tricky fairies thrown in for good measure :) The setting was a little removed, set in a story-world that felt akin to a high-fantasy with villages and princes and forgotten magic and such, and it didn't quite pull me in as entirely as other books, but it was still a high quality book. I look forward to Lo's forthcoming Huntress.

A passage from the climax of the book (but I don't think it's spoiler-y, just lovely):

As the people swayed and stamped and sung their way around the bonfire, Ash knew that this was what the fairies were always hunting for: a circle of joy, hot and brilliant, the scent of love in the deepest winter. But all they could do was create a pale, crystalline imitation, perfect and cold. How it must disappoint them: that they would never be human.

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