20 LGBTQIA+ stories with upbeat endings

3 of 21

19. Ash

Fairytale retellings are rich ground for many writers. After all, these folktales are stuffed full of meaning and embedded cultural history. They often also have the strange, compelling logic of a dream, something near irresistible for many a fiction writer.

Writers interested in LGBTQIA+ themes are characters are no exception. If we are to agree that there is a world — however fictional — where people can turn into beasts and magical fairies watch over us, then can’t we at least give LGBTQIA+ people a place there, too?

That’s what happens in Ash, by Malinda Lo. It’s a retelling of the Cinderella fairytale, only with a lot more creepy supernatural creatures and a lesbian romance.

The story follows Ash, a teenage girl who, as in the standard Cinderella myth, is orphaned and left under the care of a cruel stepmother. Things have gotten pretty rough for Ash, to the point where her sole comfort is reading fairy tales when she’s finally left alone at night. Those fairy tales have gotten to her head, though. Ash starts to wish that the fairies would really come along and take her away from her abusive home life.

However, when the fairy prince Sidhean shows up, Ash learns that she has gotten more than she’s wished for. Sidhean is seriously creepy. Thankfully, Ash has also met Kaisa, a high-ranking woman who works as the King’s Huntress. The two women become good friends, and soon enough, Ash is nursing romantic feelings for Kaisa.

Kaisa appears to reciprocate Ash’s affection, but it’s all put to the test when Sidhean insists on taking the teenager back to his homeland.