by Lo, Malinda

In this variation on the Cinderella story, Ash grows up believing in the fairy realm that the king and his philosophers have sought to suppress, until one day she must choose between a handsome fairy and the king's huntress.

Malinda Lo was born in China and moved to the United States as a child. She grew up in Colorado and has since lived in Boston, New York, London, Beijing, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. She is the former managing editor of, the largest entertainment news website for lesbians and bisexual women. In 2006, Malinda was awarded the Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Journalism by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and has master's degrees from Harvard and Stanford universities.

Malinda now lives in Northern California with her partner and their dog. Ash was her first novel.

In this groundbreaking, gender-mixing retelling, it's another woman at court, not the prince, who captures Cinderella's heart. After she loses both her parents, Aisling, or Ash, becomes a beleaguered servant to her cruel stepmother and husband-hunting stepsisters, but an enchantment allows her to attend a ball, where the prince finds her irresistible. Here, though, is where Lo's debut diverges from the original tale's familiar plot points. The magical godmother in this story is actually an ethereal male, Sidhean, whose fairy kingdom lies hidden in the vibrant, wild forest that Ash loves. Among the trees, she also meets Kaisa, the king's huntress, with whom she feels an overwhelming, real-world pull, and it's Kaisa, not the prince, who inspires Ash to make a perilous, soul-threatening pact with Sidhean and attend the court balls in enchanted disguise. Part heart-pounding lesbian romance and part universal coming-of-age story, Lo's powerful tale is richly embroidered with folklore and glittering fairy magic that will draw fans of Sharon Shinn's earthy, herb-laced fantasies. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

An unexpected reimagining of the Cinderella tale, exquisite and pristine, unfolding deliberately. Aisling-Ash-knows the fairy stories and lore told her by her now-dead mother, but she does not know if she believes them. When her father dies and her stepmother and stepsisters move her away from the Wood to the City, she finds herself returning to her mother's grave, where she meets the fairy Sidhean. Ash barely notes her harsh treatment at the hands of her stepfamily, as she both longs for and fears her glimpses of Sidhean. He longs for her, too, in ways she is slow to understand. Ash also is slow to see Kaisa, the King's Huntress, as the source of her own desire. When she does, Ash turns to Sidhean to make it possible for her to spend time with Kaisa, despite the price Ash knows she will have to pay. Ash and Kaisa's dance at the King's Ball is a wild and gorgeous moment, no less so than the night Ash must spend in Sidhean's Wood. Beautiful language magically wrought; beautiful storytelling magically told. (Fantasy. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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