I actually read this book two months ago, I just thought that I needed to post a review to get things started.
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: January 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown
Cover Designer: Alison Impey
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Fairy tales, LGBT
Summary: 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. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted. But when 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. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Wow. This book really exceeded my expectations. Although the pace was slow, the writing was lush and beautiful, and descriptive without going overboard. Because the writing is so good, I'm surprised that this is Lo's debut novel. It felt like she had to have been writing for years to be able to write so lyrically.
One thing I really loved about this book is that there is no emphasis on the fact that Ash loves another girl. It makes it seem completely natural, which is why this barely felt like a LGBTQ book. It is so much more than the "lesbian retelling of Cinderella" that it is commonly labeled as. I don't know why I haven't given this book 5 stars.
Oh, and in case you're wondering where the name "Ash" came from, the Grimm brothers called Cinderella "Aschenputtel", which contains the word Ash. A few more reasons why the character has a name related to ashes are that in the original fairytale, Cinderella slept on the hearth when she finished her chores (so she is always covered in ashes) and that ashes are a symbol of humiliation and punishment.