The Literature Hub
Reviewed by Ivy
Author: Malinda Lo
Publisher & Pages: Hodder Children’s Books, 291 pages
Audience: Young Adult
Blurb: With her parents both gone, Ash finds herself a servant in the house of her ruthless stepmother and there seems no hope of finding happiness again.
But Ash is unaware of her mother’s legacy, and it will lead her to a magical place. A place where love, identity and belonging are all waiting….
Read time: Over several days.
Highlight: The tale of Ash is a graceful circus butterfly that makes your head and heart spin.
Caution: Tears may fall so get someone to hold you while you read. The comfort may save your tender heart.
Highlight: Ash outwits and outshines her stepmother and stepsisters.
Caution: The stepmother does not get the slap in the face you wish for.
The simplicity of the blurb is rather misleading. Realistically, Ash is a raw piece of art. Its sweet and tender story is wonderfully displayed by the smallest of actions, and tale of grand meanings. Like the Cinderella story, Ash is forced under the thumb of her stepmother. But don’t let Cinderella’s story blind you from the independence and beauty of Ash.
Trudging through trials of hardship themes of love, identity, and belonging spring forth. We join Ash on her journey to discover just that. And so this tale spreads beyond the classic Disney tale.
With a slow constant pace, the world of Ash trembles in heartbreak and small dreams wait to bloom. The author has beautifully captured the emotions of the character that it’s difficult to stop reading. Using a little bit of telling and reinforcing the scene with actions emotions leak from the pages to become more than simple words. The elegant use of language turns the story into something real. The establishment between Ash and her mother is surreal, despite her mother having died years prior. Instead of a classic tale revolving around a fantasy world, the fantasy element only compliments the tale.
Ash adventures through the forest that holds dangers and her freedom. In the forest where the Huntress’s party frequently visits, Ash meets Kaisa and a mystical man. Kaisa shows Ash what she can have but is guarded by status and her stepmother. Time after time Ash breaks free of her prison only to voluntarily walk back and lock the door behind her. Conflicted between where people want her to be and where she wants to go, Ash has to make a choice.
Fight or hide.
The mystical man provides Ash with an alternative, but has she made the right choice?
The magical element of Ash is so miniscule they do not match the importance of the tale. Ash is determined, shy, and gets braver as she discovers the truth about the world and more importantly, herself. Unsure where she belongs, Ash is in awe after meeting Kaisa who sees her as she is despite the social distance. Between her stepmother, the mystical man, and Kaisa, Ash runs into the unknown as Kaisa opens Ash’s eyes to the possibility of returning home.
Ash learns her home is where her love resides.
Star Rating: 5 stars
Available in: Hardcover, paperback, and e-book.