March 4th 2010 (UK)
Hodder Children's (UK)
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, rereading 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.
Despite the fact that I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about Ash, I really enjoyed it! I've always been a bit of a sucker for fairytale retellings, and while the only ones I've read have been set in a modern environment, I really enjoyed the traditional fantasy setting of Ash.
But that was about the only traditional thing about it. The fairies were a real diversion from the typical fairies from Cinderella, being that they were a lot more like the faeries we all know and love (and I use the word Love VERY lightly, because those faeries are darn mischievous). I really liked Sidhean, and all of the fairy tales as well. I AM a complete sucker for anything fairytaley after all. But I thought the world building was really fabulous too. I had a great feel for the kingdom and The Wood, and it made me want to read a whole bunch of fantasy novels (a genre which, as much I'd like to, generally do not foray into often).
I enjoyed the characters, though I think that the way the story was told meant that I didn't really get to know any of them, and I don't think the characters are the things that I'll remember most about this book, despite the fact that the book was named after one. I think I liked Kaisa more than Ash even though she's only in the book for the last half, and my favourite character was Sidhean, though I did have a soft spot for Clara.
Some people might not pick up Ash because of the nature of the romance (it being girl-girl), but you shouldn't let that put you off. It's not explicit, if anything it's probably one of the tamest I've read romance wise, and the romance is really sweet. I don't think you should let gender/sexual orientation stop you from reading a book. But that's just my opinion, and the romance is genuinely sweet and lovely, and innocent.
Ash is a sweet, lovely written Cinderella retelling which I definitely think you should read if fantasy is your thing, or if you like fairy tales and their retellings like me. 4 stars :)