This was a very interesting take on the Cinderella story. I loved the way Malinda Lo built the Kingdom and I like the characterization and detail of (most) of the characters. That being said, Ash felt a little flat. Not sure if I completely missed it or what but I have no idea what color hair she possessed. Maybe I became to captivated by the story and zoned out when the description came but I can't put a color to her hair. I do like that her beauty wasn't over-stressed like in a lot of fairy-tale retellings. I enjoyed that a different outcome was envisioned for our girl of the Ashes. But the thing that rated this so high was the subtlety. There was no in your face "LOVE LOVE LOVE" beaten to death. It was slow, gentle, and natural. No one fell in love just because of appearances. (Well maybe one person did..but I think that was beyond his control.) Plus some parts seemed to show a semi-realistic world, even though there was a lot of magic floating around. When Ash's father falls sick the medical measures taken by the physicians was pretty much standard for the feudal era.I would have to say this book keeps the magic and beauty of Cinderella while making it's own mark on the tale.