by Malinda Lo
Today’s the 67th Anniversary of Disney’s animated Cinderella. While not one of my favorites renditions, this post seemed appropriate.
I finished this book a couple years ago and I’ve been meaning to reflect on it.
First it was simply good, and second it was very much a retelling of Cinderella.
That is, I could tell where there were little twinges of the original Grimm tale, such as the presence of the mother’s grave being important and the symbolism of trees. It made me want to read more novel length reinterpretations of fairy tales (which I have done) and write a more fairy-tale focused story myself (which is still gestating).
At the same time, now that I’m beginning my foray into novel-length reinterpretation on fairy tales (yay!), I have to admit that Ash also appealed to my artistic writer sensibilities.
The lush yet plot-essential and plot-driving descriptions were beautiful and lucid and rooted. Along with that, the slow development of Ash’s feelings and choices were subtle but believable. I could comprehend her growing feelings, her mistakes, and her realization of the two without what I felt could be classified as overtly expressive language. It felt psychological. And maybe I liked it because it reminded me a bit of my own style.
Of course, Malinda Lo was better at mixing description with action and the plot. If anything, her description definitely made me stop and think about how to convey beautiful lush description but still keep the plot going.
And even more so, it gave me the awareness that description and details add to a story through their value in the story’s plot; the things described, be it an object or a physical trait are essential to comprehending the story. (I knew this already, but her book really brought it home to me).
Also, there was a weighted realism to the world, but filled with magic and concrete history, particularly in the form of its own fairy tales. Which is always something I love. It was all wonderfully alive.
Finally, the love story between Ash and the huntress was just really sweet. Personally, for me, I felt very invested in them getting together. It was the first couple I’ve read about in a while that I would say I felt that way.
I highly recommend it.