Ash Redfern: Behind a Facade?
We are expected to view Ash as a model Night World citizen - he hates humans, revels in his nature, wants to control his sisters, is powerful and looks out for the interests of the Night World in general. Ash himself, seems to have absorbed this idea and when he first feels the soulmate connection, he is appalled. Members of the Night World do not believe in the soulmate principle, but he now knows it to be true. His response is to deny that it means anything. Ash can't escape the reality of the soulmate connection, but he can deny it's powers. He states flatly that he doesn't want it and intends to do nothing about it. It is obvious to readers that finding his soulmate has left a deep impression on Ash. Almost immediately after, he starts to convey more feelings than usual and a different person begins to emerge - an Ash that Rowan recognises from their childhood. Rowan also tells us that she has always felt that Ash's attitude was "just show". Although he tries to perpetuate the image of himself that he has carefully cultivated over the years, Ash is unable to hang on. His sisters and Mary-Lynnette all comment on how much he has changed, and eventually he is forced to admit it.
So, underneath it all, is it possible that Ash built an image to cover certain aspects of his personality that didn't fit in with Night World ideals? Did the little boy who played with his sisters realise that he wasn't going to fit in and change accordingly? Once he had established his 'bad-ass' image of a slightly-obnoxious, not-to-be-messed-with, lady's man, Ash would have been set. Hiding beneath a facade, he wouldn't have had to do anything particularly evil. Perhaps this is why we never hear of him killing any of the human girls he 'toyed' with. When Mary-Lynnette sees into Ash's mind, she sees acts that he is ashamed of. It is clear that Ash has done bad things, but what these things are exactly is never obvious. The dark areas in his mind needn't necessarily represent murder (although he probably had killed people) or anything that is truly evil. They could represent a sense of shame at the way he had acted and the way he had treated people. While there is some element of 'badness' there, it need not be so deeply awful as people assume. In most of his appearances in Night World books, people realise that there is something dangerous beneath Ash's surface, but Mary-Lynnette also feels this about Kestrel. The feeling of power people get from Ash could just be a reflection of his love of what he is, rather than his wish to do harm to all he meets.
There are occassional mentions of a different Ash even while he is believed to be the "ultimate vampire". Poppy isn't certain that Ash was planning to turn her in to the Night World Council. Thea seems surprised that Ash could sink to kidnapping someone's soulmate, indicating she didn't think Ash was very bad. Quinn is shocked to discover that Ash has (apparantly) killed his aunt and Jeremy, stating "I didn't think you were that ruthless". His sisters claim that he doesn't have "conservative" attitudes towards certain things and Rowan stands up for him when Mary-Lynnette calls him prejudiced:
the wrong kind of people on the Outside. Belonging to
a club that admits werewolves, having werewolves for
friends. The Elders all say he's too liberal
about that." (DoD, page 169)
Ash's carefully constructed 'perfect Night Worlder' image slips further and further throughout Daughters of Darkness. His reaction to the deaths of Mrs Burdock and Ethel, the goat is surprising. He is clearly upset even though Mrs Burdock tempted his sisters away, causing trouble, and a goat shouldn't mean anything to him. When he confronts his sisters, instead of imtimidating them, as they expect, he acts like he just wants to get things over with. He attempts to persuade rather than threaten and reveals that he's not the only one who knows that they're there. Was this revelation deliberate? Is there an implication here that if Quinn didn't know anything about the situation, Ash would let his sisters stay in Briar Creek? While it seems that Ash has stopped trying to make his sisters leave by force, he never really threatened this in the first place. He told Quinn that he would dowhatever was necessary to convince his sisters to come home with him, but Ash never comes close to threatening behaviour.
His "self-centered" attitude also quickly disappears, as he tries to protect his sisters, Mary-Lynnette, and later Mark. He tells his sisters that they haven't really thought about the consequences of their actions, but he does so wearily, coming across as protective yet again. He tries to get rid of Mark and Mary-Lynnette before he can discover how much the know about the Night World.
It is clear to everyone at this point, that Ash is different, but amongst all of this protectiveness, Ash is also tying to protect himself. He tells the Redfern girls that they can all just go home, forget about everything and agree that it never happened. While this covers his sisters, it also covers himself. He can forget that he ever discovered the soulmate principle and revert to his 'normal' self, while being sure that his sisters won't tell anyone that he broke Night World laws and lied to the Elders.