“Aisling’s mother died at midsummer.”
Malinda Lo‘s crucially important Ash is on just about every single YA LGBTQ book list ever, including several that I have written myself, which is why it was kind of embarrassing that I had never read it. It’s a retelling of the weirdly universal Cinderella story (seriously, look up how many different versions of Cinderella there are around the world. It’s wild.), only Cinderella is a big old LESBIAN. THE HORROR, THE HORROR.
(I hope everyone realizes I’m being sarcastic. I’m a queer lady. I’m mostly mocking some of the idiotic homophobic reviews I read on Goodreads. Why someone who is a bigot would pick up this very openly gay Cinderella story and then be shocked at the queerness within is beyond me. It’s also REALLY chaste. Ugh. People.)
Anyways. I’ve known about this book for years, I recommend it to people and slap it on all sorts of booklists, so imagine my disappointment when I didn’t love it.
I really liked it at first. Malinda Lo is a pretty writer, and I loved the introduction of the slightly more traditional version of the Faie world. However, as the story trundled along, I found myself getting bored. It seemed like she was trying to emulate the tone and style of the traditional fairy tale in that the characters never feel terribly fleshed-out or complex. This is standard in fairy tales populated by archetypes. However, most fairy tales aren’t 250 pages long, and archetypes with no meat and bones can’t sustain me for the length of a novel.
The eventual lesbian romance was cool and all that, but it was too little, too late kind of thing for me. By the time things finally started escalating between Ash and Kaisa I was pretty bored.
Basically, I just wish this was a short story or, at most, a novella. It’s such a great idea, and Lo is a good writer, so if it had just been shorter I think I would have liked it more. Either that or if Lo had actually developed some of her characters. One or the other, either/or.
That said, this book is still hella important and NEEDS to be a part of every single YA collection. I will continue recommending it to people who want their fairy tales gayed up a bit, and it will retain its place of honor on my booklists for LGBTQ youth. SO THERE.
As for music, I chose Sleater-Kinney’s “Night Light,” because I’d like to think of Kaisa as the light that saves Ash from a truly miserable existence, and because S-K is my favorite band of women who like vaginas.
Where I got it: I weeded it from my old library’s collection. (Don’t worry! It was just because we had duplicate copies.)