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Ash by Malinda Lo

y Malinda Lo

Publishing Information: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: New York, 2009
ISBN: 9780316040099 / 9780316040105 (PB)
: 264 p.
Ages: 13 & Up

In a Cinderella variation, Ash grew up with a forbidden believe in fairies. Now she must choose between a handsom fairy cursed to love her and her love for the King's Huntress

Book Talk:
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, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, sometday 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 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 a desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a chaoice 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.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Fairy Tales

Awards & Reviews:
American Library Association Rainbow List, 2010
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Nominee, 2009
Children's Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Edcution's Best Book of the Year, 2009
Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices List, 2010
Kid's Indy Next List, Autumn 2009
KirkusBest Young Adult Books List, 2009
Lambda Literary Award, LGBT Children's/Young Adult FInalist, 2010
Lovus Recommended Reading LIst, 2009
New York Public LIbrary Stuff for the Teen Age, 2010
Northern California Book Award, Children's Literature, 2010
Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year, Teen Fiction, 2010
William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist, 2010

Booklist, September 15, 2009, p. 66
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October 1, 2009
Horn Book, November 1, 2009, p. 677
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2009, p. 953 (Starred Review)
Library Media Connection, Nov2009, Vol. 28 Issue 3, p84
New York Times, November 8, 2009, p. 27
Publishers Weekly, August 31, 2009, p18
School Library Journal, September 16, 2009
Teacher Librarian, February 2010, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p71
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, October 1, 2009, p. 332

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Ash is described in reviews as “Cinderella with a twist”. How does Ash’s realization impact the story? Would the book’s mood change if Ash chose Sidhean’s world over her love for Kasai?
  2. The Imagery in Ash is vivid and compelling. Select a passage in the book and discuss how the images explore the book’s themes of power, money and love. Do they compel the reader to look at relationships differently?
  3. Compare a tale in which the male is the traditional strong hero who “saves the day” (such as a Jack tale), with Ash which contains a woman as a strong, resourceful hero. Introduction to Jack Tales:,258  For more tales featuring strong women click here.
  4. Compare the roles of women in a traditional tale in which the heroine has a relatively passive role (such as Disney’s “Cinderella”), and Ash in which a woman is a strong, resourceful hero.
  5. Compare Disney’s film version of Cinderella with Charles Perrault’s classic story. How do the heroes of these more traditional tales compare with Ash, Kasai and Sidhean?
  6. Compare Ash and the variant taleThe Hidden One: A Native American Legend told by Aaron Shepard How are the stories similar? Different? How does the image of the Hunter in these tales reflect the role of women in their cultures? Is Ash representative of today’s culture?

Related Websites:
Author’s Website:
An Interview with Malinda Lo:
Ashpet: An American Cinderella
Cinderella: Variations and Multicultural Versions:
Encyclopedia Mythica:
Fables and Fairy Tales:
Feminist Collections of Folktales:
Endicott Studios:
Once Upon a time…:
Sur La Lune ~ Fairy Tales and Folklore ~ Cinderella:
Tales of Strong Women
The Big Bad Wolf: Scary Characters in Children's Literature:

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stievfater
Beast by Donna Jo Napoli, 2000
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley, 1978
Before Midnight: A Retelling of Cinderella by Pamela Dokey, 2007
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner, 2009
Bound by Donna Jo Napoli, 2004
Breath by Donna Jo Napoli, 2003 

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, 1992
Chalice by Robin McKinley, 2008
The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable, 2004
The Waterless Sea by Kate Constable, 2005
The Tenth Power by Kate Constable, 2006
Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah, 1999
The Hunter’s Moon by O.R. Melling, 2005
The Summer King by O.R. Melling, 2006;
The Light-Bearer’s Daughter by O.R. Melling, 2008
The Book of Dreams by O.R. Melling, 2009
Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce, 2008
Darklight by Lesley Livingston, 2009
Deerskin by Robin McKinley, 1993
Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley, 2007
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson, 1998
The Faery Realm: Tales from the Twilight Realm ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, 2004
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr, 2009
Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier, 2008
Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale by Donna Jo Napoli, 2007
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, 2008
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 1999
Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stievfater,
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, 1969
The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli, 1993
A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede, June 8, 2010
The Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn, 2005
Pegasus by Robin McKinley, November 2, 2010
The Naming by Alisson Crogan, 2005
The Riddle by Alisson Crogan, 2006
The Crow by Alisson Crogan, 2007
The Singing by Alisson Crogan, 2009
The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison, 2007
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, 2009
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr, 2010
Rose Red by Patricia A. McKillip
Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley, 1997
Daughter of the Forest by Julliet Marillier, 2001
Son of the Shadows by Julliet Marillier, 2002
Child of the Prophecy by Julliet Marillier, 2003
Singer by Jean Thesman, 2005
The Singer in the Snow by Louise Marley, 2005
Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede, 1989
Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip, 2006
Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley, 2000
Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli & Richard Tchen, 1999
Stardust by Neil Gaiman, 1999
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, 2008
The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott, 2008
Tales of Wonder edited by Jane Yolen, 1993
Water Song: A Retelling of "The Frog Prince" by Suzanne Weyn, 2006
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, 2007
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, 2007 (2009 RITBA Nominee)
Winter Rose by Patricial McKillip, 2002
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, 2008
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, 1996

Films and Non-Fiction Books ~ "Cinderella"
Richard Chase, Grandfather Tales (Appalachian folk tales, 1948; contains “Ashpet”)
Ashpet for online tales you might want to read, including Celtic ones.
Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (wacky picture book satires of fairy tales)
Cinderella by Charles Perrault; retold by Amy Ehrlich; pictures by Susan Jeffers (1985)
Lowell Swortzell, Cinderella: The World’s Favorite Fairy Tale (play versions from 3 countries)
Jack Zipes, Don’t Bet on the Prince (updated fairy tales by various authors and critical essays)
Ashpet - live-action video by Tom Davenport
Cinderella- Rogers and Hammerstein musical (older production with Leslie Ann Warren)-
Ever After - live-action film with Drew Barrymore -
Touch Magic by Jane Yolen, 1981

Other Books by the Author:
Huntress, 2011

About the Author:
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 is her first novel. Her website is

Malinda Lo is the author of Ash (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), which is a nominee for the Andre Norton Award, was a finalist for the 2010 William C. Morris Award, and was a Kirkus Best Young Adult Novel of 2009. Formerly, she was an entertainment reporter, and was awarded the 2006 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Journalism by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and has master’s degrees from Harvard and Stanford universities. She has lived in Colorado, Boston, New York, London, Beijing, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, but now lives in a small town in Northern California with her partner and their dog.

Malinda shares miscellaneous biographical facts
I was born in China and moved to the United States when I was 3 years old. I grew up in Lafayette and Louisville, two small former coal-mining towns, and I was always one of only three other Asian-American kids in my class.

My grandmother, Ruth Earnshaw Lo, was a huge influence on me as a writer. Her book, In the Eye of the Typhoon (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), tells the story of my family’s experiences during the Cultural Revolution in China.

I was first published when I was 12 years old. My grandmother suggested that I send a poem about my cat, Fluffy (I did not name her), to Cats magazine — and they paid me $10 to print it. As my grandmother said at the time, “Now you will always be a published writer.”
I wrote three fantasy novels when I was a teenager! One was a knock-off of Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword (one of my favorite books ever), another was an epic novel about war and the afterlife, and the third was about a prince who comes into power before he’s ready for it. None of these shall ever see the light of day, and those are not famous last words.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair