Ash by Malinda Lo is a retelling of the Cinderella fairytale for a new generation.
Set in a world were Fairy Tales have a grain of truth to them, young Aisling, or Ash, loses her mother to illness. Her father soon remarries, and then also grows ill and dies. When it is revealed a few months later that her father left with debts to pay, and her stepmother claiming he used up all that remained of her money, Ash is soon forced to be one of the family’s servants to “work off” the debt. Eventually, Ash is the only servant. Her stepmother and stepsister Anna are mean and cruel to her, but Ash finds solace in the woods where she meets a Fairy man named Sidhean. Their friendship helps her cope, and she hopes he will one day take her away from her life.
Eventually she also meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress who is only a little older than Ash. The two strike up a friendship that eventually blossoms into more. When Ash asks Sidhean to help her attend several royal events without her stepmother and stepsister knowing, the price is a steep one. Ash has to make a choice, Sidhean or Kaisa?
This is the first LGBT story I’ve read. I didn’t realize it was one when I started, the fact that it was a Cinderella story drew me to it. I think it makes it an interesting twist. I loved that the job of leading the King’s Hunt is a woman’s, and always has been. I like that Ash’s prince isn’t the human prince, but a fairy instead and that it wasn’t a typical fairy godmother character. In essence, there is a love triangle here, just one that is a bit different. I also liked that the younger stepsister was nice to Ash, I always like retellings where one of the sisters is not ugly and mean, but nice.
I give it Four Lightsabers.