Take a few moments and just stare at the stunning cover of Malinda Lo’s debut novel, Ash:
It was important for you to do that, because a) it’s just plain beautiful to gaze upon, and b) I think it’s rare to find a cover that conveys to perfection so much of the emotion of the novel, and even suggests simply through the image, the most significant themes that the novel explores. I know that I’ve been wanting to read Malinda Lo’s book from the second I saw the cover for the first time. It has real draw, don’t you think? Once you’ve read the book, you’ll appreciate that there could not have been a better cover for Ash. It captures the often dark tone of the novel, its mystery, the importance of the natural world in the narrative, and the grief and isolation and need of the main character, all in one understated but powerful image. Take note publishers. That is the way to do a cover.
It’s hard to review a book that everyone else has already showered with love. And Ms. Lo has been showered with love for her debut. To begin, let’s just say, as much as I admire the cover, I admire the storytelling just as much, plus a little more. Ash is Cinderella reimagined, or as Lo puts it in this video, her novel is a retelling of Cinderella, with a twist:
I’m always taken by a book with strong and consistent mood. Ash has mood, in spades. It’s a little magical. There’s the dark mystery of the Wood. The sense of longing and isolation. All that mingles around together in a most satisfying manner. Of courses, a lot of the buzz about this book has been about the same-sex romance, but Ash is not just a book about that. It’s about loss and loneliness more than anything else, and how that shapes and changes a person. But back to the love story … It’s very well done. It builds at just the right pace, in a way that seems natural, without rushing or taking over everything else that was happening, as many love stories do. Part of the appeal of Ash is that it isn’t just one thing. It isn’t entirely a “fairy book,” or a romance, or a book about grieving. Somehow it manages to contain elements of all of these sorts of stories without any of the parts feeling shallow or underdeveloped and unconvincing. There’s real richness in this book, from beginning to end, and it will get you thinking, which isn’t something that all fairy tale retellings manage. Ash is not only about story, but it is an awfully good one.
Readers will be very pleased to know that Malinda Lo has a companion book to Ash coming out in Spring 2011, titled Huntress.
Ash is published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers.