Ash is a teenage girl whose loving father has died, leaving her alone with her cruel and violent stepmother. Ash's sole source of comfort is reading fairy tales by the dying light of the fire in her room each night. Ash dreams that, one day, fairies might find her and spirit her away to their world where all her wishes will come true. One night, the mysterious and sinister fairy prince Sidhean finds Ash and begins to prepare her to enter fairyland. But shortly thereafter, Ash meets Kaisa—a noblewoman and the King's Huntress. Ash and Kaisa not only form an immediate and deep friendship, but Ash begins to fall in love with the beautiful, strong woman. Ash's feelings seem be reciprocated but Sidhean returns to claim what he says is rightfully his due, and a battle for Ash's body and soul will push Ash to the brink. -Plot summary borrowed from Amazon
I really loved this book. As a fairytale retelling it was in some ways only loosely based on the original- despite the frame of a girl orphaned and "cared for" by her stepmother and a ball scene, this is a very original novel with plenty of welcome plot/character additions. At the same time, there were bits and piences that were straight from original tellings of Cinderella. For instance, Ash finds solace sleeping at her mother's gravesite, recalling the Grimm's "The Juniper Tree."
Overall I really enjoyed this book. The world building was solidly done, dialogue was believable, and I found myself really caring about not only Ash but her relationships with Sidhean and Kaisa. If you enjoyed other fairly lighltly romantic fairytale re-tellings like Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing or Jessica Day George's Princess of the Midnight Ball, you might enjoy Ash.