Ash Ash by Malinda Lo

Yet another title to add to the collection of novel-length Cinderella retellings, and this one is distinguished by a few things. It’s the only one I know of where the Cinderella figure – Ash, in this story – falls in love with another woman rather than the prince. It also treats the fairy godparent role in a distinctive way, with a helpful but not entirely benevolent fairy godfather of sorts. The darkness – and allure – of the world of fairies is a big part of the mood of the books, and fairy lore is treated as a sort of ‘pagan’ religion that fell out of favor with the rulers of the book’s imaginary country.

I would recommend this for middle school and up, since the romance is more in glances and longing than anything else, but there’s still a darkness and maturity to the themes of the story. It’s a solid retelling, and a good choice for fans of this genre, but it never quite hooked me personally. I don’t think I was ever completely swept up in the world of the story, and I wasn’t particularly drawn to Ash as a character.

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