Ash by Malinda Lo
First book of the Huntress trilogy, it is set in a world where magic has faded to nothing but rituals and fairy tales. The story follows the coming-of-age of a girl called Aisling (nicknamed Ash for no given reason) and is pretty much the retelling of the Cinderella story.
I heard about this book when I was on the hunt for some homosexual erotica. This book isnít that, it isnít porn. Itís most defiantly a YA book. Iím not a huge fan of teen lit, as I like dark and gritty, but something to do with this book just begged me to pick it up and read it. No, it wasnít the lesbians. How dare you, Iím not that shallow. Why are you scoffing? I can have other reasons for reading books other than the gay. I mean, for one, thereís the pretty covers and... um... the.... ah...
Oh fine, yes. I bought it because of lesbians. Iíve had it for a few months, wafting its tempting lesbianism at me but I resisted because I usually find lesbian lit to be rather grating and low quality. I just assumed it wouldnít be any good. I finally broke because Ė well, my recent reads have had so few positive views of women in them, I was feeling rather stifled.
It began on a very weak note. The author not only uses clichťs but rather frustratingly says things in a pointlessly embroidered manner. Some might find it charming and old-world, but to me it was just a waste of
time. I want to read something more, not just the night was both shadowy and dark. Itís night, your readership ought to know what that means.
Happily this word-abuse fades and we get to follow Ash through her life. It is a somewhat miserable one, as youíd expect from a Cinderella retelling, but she isnít meek about it, which is what I had been fearing. Iím very pleased the author gave her some fight.
The book doesnít really have much depth to it, though what there is has been crafted very finely. I adored the way the author wrote about the fairies, and how while she kept the power predominantly masculine, women were given power too, though this had grown simply symbolic due to the fade of magic in the world.
The characters were interesting, to a point. They each had their own motives, their own desires, but they still seemed sadly 2D to me. I liked Kaisa, the huntress, for her calm confidence and hesitant joy and Sidhean, the fairy, for his feral and alien manners.
I am not one for romance, but I found the one that this book leads to to be a delight, gentle and cautious and lovely.
The ending was regretfully rushed, and something of a let down. After all the stories that Ash and Kaisa tell each other, I thought there was going to be more to it. Yes, I was disappointed at how the book ended, but the why is rather spoiler-heavy, so Iíll leave it out.
Despite that, I liked it for what it was, a lighthearted diversion with just enough dark notes in it to hint that, if the book were set a few hundred years before, things would not be so easy for Ash. In all honesty, I would have loved it if the book were less safe, but I keep reminding myself itís YA so itís hindered in that aspect. I donít think I will be getting the next book, Huntress.
Overall: 6/10Author's website
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