Why diversity matters at Christmas 03/12/20
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
In this unusual reimagining of the Cinderella story, Aisling (known as Ash) grows up on the edge of a mysterious forest, entranced by the greenwitches' old tales of fairies and magic. But everything changes when Ash's beloved mother dies, and her father marries the haughty Lady Isobel who has no interest in magic. After her father suddenly dies too, Lady Isobel insists that Ash becomes her servant to pay the debts her father left behind him. Ash must now serve her stepsisters, Ana and Clara, as they prepare for presentation at Court where they will be expected to make an advantageous marriage.
Grief-stricken and alone, bullied by her cruel and greedy stepmother, Ash is left with only fairy-tales left to comfort her. Wandering strange paths in her beloved woods by night, she finally encounters a real fairy - the mysterious and handsome Sidhean - and is haunted by dreams that he will take her away to a happier life in fairy land.
But on her secret walks in the woods Ash also makes another new friend - Kaisa, a young noblewoman employed as the King's Huntress. As their relationship blossoms, Ash begins to discover a new-found sense of hope and self-respect. Whilst her stepsisters are excited to attend Royal celebrations in the hope of catching young Prince Aidan's eye, Ash sets out to secretly follow them - not because she wants to meet the prince, but in order to see Kaisa. But to do so she must strike a dangerous bargain with Sidhean - and it's not until she has done so that she realises how high the stakes might be.
Circumnavigating the traditional Cinderella story of a girl and a handsome prince, this beautifully-written re-intepretation instead takes a different approach, focusing on the tale of two young women falling in love. Full of magic and enchantment, this sensual and evocative novel is a sophisticated fairy-tale for older readers, in the tradition of Robin McKinley's Beauty.