Ash is not your typical fairy tale - though at first blush, you'd assume so.
Instead, Malinda Lo has taken a page from Anne Rice's book and turned a classic fairy tale into something...unique. But for young adults, so if you assumed I meant something akin to Rice's erotic version of Sleeping Beauty, your pulse can return to normal.
Ash is similar in structure to Cinderella - the evil stepmother and her two spoiled daughters, Ash (Aisling) forced to tend to their every whim, the Prince's hunt for a bride, the great ball... But there is no glass slipper or fairy godmother, per say. There is Sidean, and a huntress, and both have interesting - and complex - roles in Ash's life.
Though I finished Ash is almost one sitting, I'm weirdly undecided about whether I actually liked the book. The writing in some places is beautiful and poetic - and ironically, similar in style to Anne Rice. I often call my friend Rocky the "King of Metaphors." Malinda Lo could be crowned the queen. Many of the descriptions allowed the images to pop from the page and I enjoyed the wordplay. Lo can write, that's for sure.
I wanted to love Sidean - but so few words were devoted to him that other than a first introduction to his beauty (which was oddly reminiscent of an Avatar character), I didn't have an opportunity to really get to know him. Similarly with Kaisha, the huntress. My sympathy for Ash was not a result of Lo's character development, but rather the similarities between her and Cinderella.
At the end of each chapter, I told myself to stop reading - but something would compel me to turn the page. I'd begin each scene with hope - something must happen, right? - but felt disappointed in almost every instance, particularly at the end, which left me unsatisfied.
There's so many great young adult books out there that I wanted this to be one of them. The cover sparked my interest, the write-up drew me in - but the author lost me after the few pages and it was a concerted struggle to make it to the finish. Aside from my promise to complete every book I start this year, part of me pushed onward with the hope of a larger-than-life, redeeming finale.
No such luck.