In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
Ash is a great retelling of the Cinderella story. Unlike the traditional story, though, Ash has a lot of plot packed into it. Not only is there the main plot line of Ash's romance with the Prince of the land, but there is the side plot of Ash's wicked stepmother, another on her friendship with Kaisa, and a third on her encounters with Sidhean. Lo weaves all the plots together with great skill, always abandoning one right before you get tired of it and making you really want more. She also has a gift of suprising you with every twist, something that is very fresh in a fairy tale retelling where you think you know where the story is going. All the characters fit well, both in their world and with eachother, and they are well made to be likeable and realistic. Well, all of them except Sidhean, who maintains his aloof exterior and you are never quite sure where he stands and whether he is a good guy or a bad guy. All the parts of this book work very well together, and I was enthralled from the beginning to the end.
Really, though, it's hard to talk about this book without talking about the big spoiler. At the end of the book Ash decides that as admirable as the Prince is, and as bad-boy-hot as Sidhean is, she is really attracted to Kaisa. Honestly, I don't know how I avoided this spoiler before reading the book, but I did, so the "twist" came as a total surprise. I'm very glad it did, too. My experience with LGBT novels is very limited, and the few I've read have seemed very in-your-face and preachy, so I probably would have avoided this book had I known. I'm glad I didn't because I would have missed out on a great read. Lo has a great flow and the relationship evolves very naturally, so instead of preachy it comes off as how things really should be. Since I didn't have a warning it also really challenged my preconceived notions and made me think about romance tropes in YA in a very good way.