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Ash: 09/22/15

Ash by Malinda Lo: A loose retelling of Cinderella.

Ash by Malinda Lo is a YA alternate retelling of Cinderella. After the death of her mother, her father leaves for the nearby city on business. Things are forever changed when he returns with a wife and two step daughters.

That's the extent of the similarities Ash's story shares with the fairytale. Ash had a healthy childhood with loving parents, and a mother who taught her self confidence and the local lore. Her mother was a witch and was aware of the faeries who inhabit the forests.

Ash watches from the sidelines as her step-mother and step-sisters burn through her inheritance and and try to rise up the ranks. It's suggested that the step-mother might be a black widow, a detail that makes her actions all the more understandable and sinister.

But what makes Ash something truly special is Lo's world building. Through the stories the king's huntress tells we learn about the kingdom, it's history, mythology, and magic. Better yet, Ash is given an alternative from the typical happily ever after ending that's tied to the perfect dress and dancing with a prince.

Ash finds love and a way to escape her oppressive home life through her friendship with the huntress. Rather than turning Ash's sexual awakening into a source of angst or melodrama, Lo gives her the confidence and brains to make this work for her.

Five stars

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