I got this as an ARC (advanced reading copy) through Amazon vine program. I love fairy tale retellings, and this book was a re-telling of Cinderella. I really loved this book; it was darker than the Disney version but happier and lighter than the Grimm’s version.
If you know the story of Cinderella than you know the beginning of this book; except Cinderella’s name is Ash and Ash can enter the fairy realm. There is no fairy godmother, but a darkly dangerous powerful fairy man named Sidhean. There is a prince but he is not the one Ash truly loves. The stepsisters and stepmother are cruel but not crazily so; at points you feel quite bad for them and their lot in life. We also cannot forget the beautiful and graceful King’s Huntress, Kaisa.
I loved this book. The writing is beautiful and really creates wonderful images in my mind of the forest and surrounding landscape. I also loved Ash’s character, she does nothing outstanding besides take risks and be herself and that is enough to redeem her in the end. In a way she is passive with a core of strength that is admirable.
Some people are describing this as a lesbian fairy tale. I suppose it is in a way, since the two characters that fall in love in the end are women, but I also think that is a pretty narrow label for this story. I think the story is more expansive than that and covers topics about finding out who you are, staying true to yourself in dire circumstances, and believing in magic of many types. I think adults and children alike will love this story. It is not written at an extremely high reading level and the intimate interactions between the characters never go beyond sweet kisses; so it is appropriate for a younger audience. It might even be a good book to introduce younger children to the concept of same sex relationships.
The book overall is very sweet and beautiful. I think anyone who loves their fairy tales will get into this book. I guess if you have an extreme objection to same sex relationships you may want to stay away; as I said though, that topic isn’t really thrown in your face in this book…it is dealt with gently and sweetly. The book is more a love story and a story about finding ones self in the world.
I loved it and will definitely check out more of Malinda Lo’s books in the future.