Ash by Malinda Lo

February is for Lovers
I may not be a huge fan of love stories, but I found several that I enjoyed reading this month. I incorporated a variety of genres into this category, including short stories. I had a few unexpected overlaps, including 2 characters called Ash. Maybe it's a sign?

In this Cinderella-retelling, our heroine is named Aisling (ASH-ling) or Ash. Raised in a loving home near the woods, she is always told stories of the fairies who reside there. When her mother dies, her belief begins to grow. Her first encounter is that very night, as her father sits vigil at her mother's grave. Looking out, she sees the grave is unwatched, and rushes out to prevent her spirit from being taken by the fey. In that moment, she is transported, she hears voices, she is covered in gold dust, and then she wakes up in her bed. Was it a dream?
Her father leaves on business, and returns with a wife. Her new stepmother seems a little cold, but it not until after her father's untimely death that she turns against her completely. They sell Ashling's home, and move into her stepmother's estate. She is relegated to a hired hand in order to pay off her father's debts. Her only solace is in the woods. Drawn to a presence, she meets Sidhean. In a dreamlike trip from her stepmother's home, back to where she lived with her family, she takes a secret path, a magic path...and Sidhean brings her home safely. He gives her a cloak, and asserts his claim over her.

She continues to yearn for the day when she can escape her stepmother, and join the fairies. Until she meets Kaisa, the King's huntress. What begins as a harmless friendship begins to blossom into something deeper. As the day of the hunt approaches, Kaisa invites Ashling to join her. Turning to Sidhean as her only hope, she makes a promise to go with him, if he will only allow her to join in the hunt. She is torn between what she thought she wanted, and what she has begin to recognize as what she does want.
"Ash woke in the middle of the night from a dream of horses—tall, thundering white horses with foaming mouths and slender, wraithlike riders. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and went to the window that looked out over the Wood. She searched for the light of the candle by the grave but saw only darkness. Then there was movement at the edge of the trees, and she shivered," (Lo pg. 5, 2009).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Ruined: a novel by Paula Morris
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Lo, Malinda. (2009). Ash. Little, Brown and Co.: New York, NY.

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