Little, Brown Young Readers (2009)
Reviewed by McKenzie Tritt (age 15) for Reader Views (9/09)
After her father’s recent death, Aisling, known as Ash, is pushed into servitude by her wicked stepmother in order to pay off her father’s debts. Ash’s life quickly goes from joyous to terrible, with no family left to console her. All she wants is her old life with her mother and father in their home on Rook Hill. The only thing she looks forward to now is her secret walks in the Wood with a mysterious faerie named Sidhean, whose intentions are hard to decipher. Ash wishes that one day Sidhean might take her away, just so she can be rid of her cruel life. And she just might get her wish.
Ash, however, meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress. All at once, things begin to change, including Ash’s heart. She forgets about Sidhean, and she begins learning about the hunt with Kaisa as her teacher. Ash soon finds herself questioning what type of a relationship the two really have: Friends or something more? But always lurking in the background is Sidhean, and he doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.
“Ash” by Malinda Lo was a fairy tale, literally and figuratively. The prose was eloquent and flowed smoothly. The fairy tales told throughout “Ash” really added to the story, and I enjoyed reading each one. The pacing was just right, and there were never any rough parts. The story itself was unlike any I have read before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The characters in this book were believable and were easy to feel emotion for, whether it was pity or hatred. Ash’s story was an encouraging tale about never giving up in the search for what you want, even when all of the odds are against you. My only complaint is that we didn’t get to see enough of Ash’s relationship with Sidhean. We only meet him a few times, and I never sensed a major spark between the two. That’s my one complaint, except for the fact that “Ash” ended much too soon. Based on Malinda Lo’s gorgeous writing and her excellence at creating a wonderful setting, she’s a new must-read author for me. I recommend “Ash” to those thirteen and up, especially those looking for a new take on the old classic.