The focus point of the story's setting is the Wood, where the fairies reign, mostly forgotten by human and believed to be nothing but "rustic superstition." There is a dreamlike quality to any scenes involving the fairies and the lines are blurred between Ash's imagination and reality. The fairies are not the species to whom Cinderella's usual fairy godmother belongs, distant cousins to Glinda the Good Witch. These are the fairies of old: beautiful, dangerous and completely alien, fascinating and yet somehow horrible at the same time.
"They were grand and beautiful and frightening - the horses' heaads shining white, their eyes burning like a blacksmith's forge. Their riders, too were like nothing she had ever seen before: ethereal men and women with pale visages, their cheekbones so sharply sculpted that she could see their skulls through translucent skin [...] and she could not close her eyes though the sight of them made her eyes burn as if she were looking at the sun."To me, these old-fashioned fairies of long ago have more than a passing resemblance to vampires - more of a resemblance than many creatures given that name in contemporary fiction, at least. Ash's Fairy Godfather figure, Sidhean, demonstrates this in his declaration of obsession for her:
"I told her that you were mine, that I had given you this cloak, that she could not have you."Does anyone else find themselves thinking of Dracula here?
Ash is a beautifully-written fairy tale. The evil stepmother and eldest stepsister are straight out of the story-as-we-know-it, but the younger stepsister, Clara, has some redeeming qualities. And as the story progresses, it becomes quite clear that the ending will not be the one we have come to expect. Oh, Ash gets her happily-ever-after, but it is not with Prince Aiden (who you probably know better as Prince Charming, but who actually features very little in this version of the story) nor with "fairy godfather" Sidhean. It is not with a prince at all.