Day 2: Ash by Malinda Lo
Ash by Malinda Lo got a lot of talk when it came out, I’m sure partly because of the striking US cover. (on the left below) The other thing I knew about it was it was a lesbian take on Cinderella.
So when I was looking for a plane book for my recent trip to america, that seemed like a good choice. Unfortunately, the book starts off really slowly. In fact, the whole first section could have been around a chapter. It’s not that it was unpleasant, and it was well written, but it was the sort of stuff that I could easily put down and never pick up again. One of the problems was I already know the story of Cinderella, and the parts where the father dies and the wicked stepmother makes Ella (or Aislinn (Ash) in this book) a servant is already very familiar and Lo’s take on fairies wasn’t terribly original or unfamiliar.
Luckily for Lo, I was trapped on a plane with no other reading material. The book really picks up in the second half when Ash meets the Huntress and falls in love. This is where Lo takes the familiar tale and breathes life into it. The tension of attraction between Ash and the Huntress is palpable in the scenes they share, as is the fear in Ash that she won’t be able to wrest herself free from the deal she has struck with a fairy prince.
I though Lo did a particularly nice job adding flesh to Ash’s stepfamily – they are still generally awful, but they act like real people caught in a situation that makes them desperate rather than simply jerks.
Unfortunately, the book stumbles at the end because Ash’s solution to her bargain comes too easily and without much of a price attached. Overall, the book was enjoyable, but not quite there, but I do look forward to Lo’s next book.
She also did something that irritates the hell out of me – second page infodump of the worldbuilding. (Ok, maybe it was three pages in, but it stopped the story cold.)