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Saturday, May 14, 2011



In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.


Malindo Lo's thought-provoking literary debut is in some respects a retelling of the Cinderella story, although in this case the heroine falls in love with a beautiful huntress rather than a prince, thus modernizing the whole concept but in no way de-intensifying it. Lo’s prose is as beautiful as the storyline suggests, and through her lush descriptions she offers an important twist on a classic story that will appeal to a wide readership, especially those looking for a adolescent romance.
But beyond these minor revisions, there are two major points of departure from the original Cinderella story. The first is the introduction of the fairy fairies, a complete culture in their own right, that used to have a fair amount of regular contact with us mortals, and second is the introduction of the King's Huntress, a nice change from the traditional all-male dominated society of most fantasies.
These two items provide the focus for Ash's development, first with her attraction to Sidhean of the fairies, and second her attraction to the Kaisa, the current Huntress, which is barely acknowledged by Ash at first, but eventually becomes an overriding force in driving the story to its conclusion. Our basic understanding of the planet upon which we reside limits the idea of fairies and everything relating to them as pure fantasy and mere subject matter for children at bedtime.
But other worlds do exist by the law of nature and our ignorance of them extends to whatever life-forms inhabit such places. How can be sure that fairies and other such spiritual beings don't have a place out there in the cosmos? We can't. And the reason we continue to insist that they are only make-believe is evidence of our ignorance as a species.
In the world of Ash, fairies are an older race of people who walk the line between life and death, reality and magic. As orphaned Ash grows up, a servant in her stepmother's home, she begins to realize that her beloved mother, Elinor, was very much in tune with these underworld folk, and that she herself has the power to see them too.
Against the sheer misery of her stepmother's cruelty, greed and ambition in preparing her two charmless daughters for presentation at court, and hopefully Royal or aristocratic marriage, Ash befriends one of these fairies - a mysterious, handsome man - who grants her wishes and restores hope to Ash's existence, even though she knows there will be a price to pay. But most important of all, she also meets Kaisa, a huntress employed by the king, and it is Kaisa who truly awakens Ash's desires for both love and self-respect, allowing her to escape the unpleasant life she leads with her grim and self-serving stepmother to find true love.
Although cleverly disguised as a fairy-tale, Ash is about the possibility and recognition of opportunities for changing our lives for the better. After all, it's something all of us are doing on a continuous basis. Through Ash, Malindo Lo's message to us is that from the deepest grief comes the chance for transformation.

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