The most talented sage-in-training for generations, Taisin has seen a vision with Kaede accompanying her on this quest, and the oracle stones have confirmed it. Kaede is an able enough scholar, but her years at the academy have merely proved that she has no ability as a sage, despite her noble father’s hopes. He’d rather solidify a political alliance using her as a marriage pawn, but the King has faith in the oracles and in Taisin’s vision – the two young women will indeed answer the Fairy Queen’s call, along with Prince Con and his best warriors.
Whether you’re saving Malinda Lo’s Ash until you finish reading this prequel or you’re returning to the sea islands and forests of ancient Cathair, you’ll be transported to a far place and a far time as you anxiously accompany Kaede and Taisin on their journey, hoping for their political success and future happiness together.
My Recommendation: No sunshine, no crops, no hope for their country unless two teens can learn what the Fairy Queen knows about the new monsters attacking under the never-ending clouds. From the sanctuary of their Academy, 17-year-old Kaede and Taisin must travel far – a daughter of the hunt and a sage just coming into her immense psychic powers against threats from… where?
Kaede thought that this quest would be much better than her noble father’s plan to marry her off as a political move, but as their small group encounters human babies born with writhing monster souls and villages scoured clean by ravening creatures of the fog, she’s not so sure. Is it coincidence that the Fairy Queen’s invitation came to the King’s court at this time of great troubles, when only Prince Con could be spared for the journey?
Traveling further into the Wood, whispering winds taunt with empty promises and Xi ghosts try to lure them off the trail. Taisin worries that her spell-knowledge is not enough to protect them. Warrior Shae opines that worry is useless; only action will see them through. Ceaseless rain leaches color from the world and hope from their spirits. The only warm spark in this dismal place is the growing attraction between Kaede and Taisin.
As they near the Fairy Queen’s city, Taisin’s sleeping- self travels to distant icy halls, the Xi ghosts circle closer, and the Huntsman of legend appears with a message. Can they indeed ford that vast river separating Fairy lands from those of humans? Will the Queen know why Cathair’s weather remains always winter? Can she help them bring springtime back to their world?
This evocative prequel to Ash takes readers into a world of menacing shadows trying to overrun a land like ancient China, where much depends on the hearts of two girls who should still be studying in school and falling in love instead of having to fight monsters in order to save their people. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.