“Aisling’s mother died at midsummer. She had fallen sick so suddenly that some of the villagers wondered if the fairies had come and taken her, for she was still young and beautiful. She was buried three days later beneath the hawthorn tree behind the house, just as twilight was darkening the sky.”
After Aisling’s (also known as Ash) mother’s death, her father goes to the city to continue his business as a merchant. From the city he returns with a new wife, Lady Isobel, and two step daughters. The new family don’t like their new surroundings and when Ash’s father falls ill Lady Isobel takes charge and forces the family to move to her house nearer the city. Ash’s father dies and she doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her beloved childhood home in Rook Hill again. The family is left in debt following her father’s death and Lady Isobel has Ash become a servant to make up for her father’s “lies.” Hating the way her life has panned out, Ash wanders into the enchanted woods one night and finds a fairy friend. She knows that fairies rarely befriend humans but this one is there in her time of need and the relationship develops.
I loved this retake on the classic Cinderella. It was very original and played around with the original very well. Ash doesn’t have a fairy and mother as in the original and if you think this kick-ass girl is gunna fall for “prince charming” well hmm…
The plot of the story is great, and really well thought out. I did think it was a little slow but it allowed the character’s relationships to develop. I loved that there were little twists to make the story differ exceptionally from the original fairy tale.
I am always happy to see some LBGT developments in YA and I wasn’t actually expected them in this story so I was very happy to see that. I won’t go into much detail but I think the way Lo plays around with gender in the story is great.
The characterisation in the story was also great, with Clara, one of the stepsisters, having more to her than just being horrible and the twist with the fairy in the woods and Ash’s mother, even though it was obvious there was something there from the very start I was impressed when I discovered what that something was! I was very annoyed at first when Ash’s father announced his marriage to Lady Isobel as it was clear from the beginning that her loved Ash’s mother very much but I think he believed he was doing what was best for Ash, not himself.
I enjoyed the story, I loved the LGBT and gender transgression elements, and the fact it was a definite retake on Cinderella and not just a modern retelling of it! I loved the descriptions, especially in the wood but I think it possibly was a little long. I found myself getting bored through the first two thirds of the book, just wanting the whole pumpkin carriage thing to happen, but I stuck through it and once we got to that bit I honestly couldn’t put the book down!