Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Published by Balzer + Bray
Published on 2014-10-14
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Orphans & Foster Homes, Young Adult
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Game of Thrones meets Graceling in this striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self.
Sara Raasch’s debut fantasy is a lightning-fast story of loyalty, love, and controlling one’s destiny.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Meira is an orphan, one of only a handful of refugees of the fallen kingdom of Winter fighting to regain a lost locket of magical power. When she manages to restore half of the lost locket, it sets into motion a series of events that will reveal old secrets and hopefully help free her people the enslaved Winterians from Spring’s cruel tyranny and restore the rightful heir to the throne.
I found Snow like Ashes to be a marvellous book. Among its strengths were definitely its world-building, which was filled with a rich history and diverse culture and traditions that helped to propel the plot. I loved reading about all the little intricate details which although at times was a little info-dumpy, it didn’t detract from the storytelling itself. My only problem is my own inability to understand how a nation eternally ensconced in winter can possibly provide their own food with their crops dormant, but grass and trees still growing underneath eternal snow. I’ve taken it upon myself to believe that these particular crops are ice and frost-proof, as crops would have to be if they were able to grow during winter. Makes sense, no?
The other strength was Meira herself, who was an extraordinary young adult heroine, capable and kick-ass and not in the least bit likely to damsel herself into a corner. She never felt sorry for herself and wanted to prove herself to her father figure, Sir (William), and to her fallen kingdom. I was often angry on her behalf as people refused to tell her important plot points like, “Oh, you’re going to marry someone now” and “Here, we’re holding a ball, surprise!” and she found out in the worst ways possible that her destiny was not her own. But she always took the blows, rolled, and got up again, and that’s why I really like her. I adore her fighting spirit, even when she’s supposed to be broken, even when she’s supposed to be terrified and in pain. She never gave up or gave in to despair. She was strong.
LOVE AND OTHER CATASTROPHES
There was a plot twist I guessed fairly early on only because it would have been totally cool if I was right, and I was. That’s not to say that the mysteries were not well handled. The (almost) inevitable love triangle seemed really blah to me, though. Although both boys were excrutiatingly hot (as seen in one particular half-naked, sweaty hot boys training to fight scene which was particularly memorable), I never really got a sense that Meira knew either of them much deeper than that. By that I mean the boy she grew up with was the only boy her age and it felt a lot like infatuation – and when she was presented with another suitable suitor, she didn’t really feel anything for him at all, and her feelings for the first boy kind of spluttered to a halt. I think Meira felt like she was supposed to be in love with Mather because he was her future king, and when she was faced with another opportunity, she didn’t quite know what to do. Which really, is an awesome situation for a sixteen year old girl to be in, because she’s not developed mentally or emotionally enough ot be able to deal with all this angst. So that was great.
Overall I’d recommend Snow Like Ashes as a wonderful start to a brilliant new series for any fantasy lover, especially if you love strong, take-no-shit heroines who wield mighty chakrams like Xena: Warrior Princess (that’s the thing on the cover, BTW). Also, the blurb says ‘Game of Thrones meets Graceling’ and it’s really not like either of those things.