Ash Malinda Lo
Ash was shortlisted for a Morris Award this year and got a lot of discussion in the blogosphere.
It has many of the markings of Cinderella stories we have seen before. A cruel stepmother and stepsisters who force Ash to be a servant, a prince looking to get married, a few balls so he can find his bride, and fairies who help her get there.
But, in this telling, Ash doesn't want to go the ball to see the prince, instead, she's befriended the King's huntresses, Kaisa. She goes because Kaisa asked her to. She goes for Kaisa.
And in this telling, there is no fairy godmother who gives wishes willingly. There are faeries, the traditional British ones, who have a different morality than we do, the ones who trap people in faerie rings, the ones where you can't eat or drink food if you ever want to leave. Not many believe in faeries any more, but Ash's mother held to the old ways and Ash does, too. Sidhean will grant Ash's wishes, but there is a price to be paid, a price that may be too much.
I love stories that dig into the traditional, British lore of the dark side of faeries. I love that this story inserts these faeries into a tale that usually has the nicer, Disney-esque version. This is a darker and deeper tale, with more stories and dimensions than you usually see, even in other novel-length versions.
The other thing I really appreciated was Ash's sense of loss and the portrayal of her extreme grief over the loss of both of her parents. Unlike other Cinderellas, Ash isn't all goodness and light. She's angry, she fights back, she runs away. She's a much more complicated and fully realized character.
Overall, it's fantastic.
Book Provided by... my local library
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