Book title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes, #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins Publishers)
Release date: October 2014
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Source: Gifted from a friend.
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
Snow Like Ashes is a very entertaining and inventive high fantasy about forbidden love, lost magic, and warring kingdoms. It follows Meira, a refugee, and her attempts to retrieve the lost magical conduit (a locket) that belongs to her kingdom. In the world of Primoria there are four season kingdoms and four rhthym kingdoms, and King Angra of Spring has conquered the country of Winter and enslaved all its people. Meira is one of the few Winterians who has escaped Angra’s grip — for now. (Cue ominous music.) Another Winterian refugee is Mather, who just so happens to be its king — who Meira is in love with. (Of course.) Eventually our small band of refugees, including the father-figure Sir (occasionally called by his first name, William, but only occasionally), find themselves in the rhythm kingdom Cordell, where political play becomes a very big focus of the book. For said political reasons, Meira becomes betrothed to the Cordellan prince, Theron, which obviously complicates things, and… that’s about when things get really bad for the characters. (Basically, evil King Angra is a lying bastard.)
I liked Meira, and liked her resilience, stubbornness, and determination, but I didn’t love her. She was reckless and whiny, though not to an annoying degree. She did grow by the book’s end, even outgrowing certain aspects of her life, which I thought was appropriate. She’s a good heroine with tons more development potential, but she didn’t grip me — she was missing a certain spark to her. I wasn’t as drawn to Meira as I wished I’d been; I didn’t connect with her entirely.
But let’s talk about this love triangle, hmm? (Sigh.) Mather is Boy #1. He’s a nice guy, but I really didn’t care for him that much. I felt like I never got to know him. Meira was just in love with him and I was like, Okay, why? I needed more personality traits to go on! Mather just felt boring. Nice, but boring. Boy #2, Theron, on the other hand, I adored. I’m strongly shipping Meira and Theron together. They immediately hit it off despite being forced into an engagement. They bonded over the fact that they’re simply pawns in a game, but they also later came to realize that they can too control their lives, just in subtler ways. (Okay, maybe not so subtle. But you get the idea, right?) The two of them are smart and would make an awesome power couple. Plus, for plot-related/plot-twist-related reasons, it makes more sense for Meira to end up with Theron — but that’s all I’m going to say. The twist, so you know, wasn’t that surprising. I didn’t immediately guess it right off the bat like it seems a lot of other readers did, but all the clues were there, and when the twist came up at the end I wasn’t shocked at all. I think I’d subconsciously figured it out by then, so it wasn’t that impressive, nor very original.
The book has a lot of info dumps. They were a bit clunky and lengthy, but I appreciate world-building and would rather take heaps of it I can reread over none or very little of it. There are also a bunch of dreams/flashbacks. (Gah, all that italic type…) The later visions were interesting, but until they revealed more information they just annoyed me. I’m not a fan of flashbacks or dreams, and tend to skim them. That’s just a quirk I have as a reader. You might be totally cool with these sorts of scenes, in which case, that’s great news for you!
Overall, Snow Like Ashes was a really fast, entertaining read with lots of action. The romance is not a focus, which is nice, but the little moments Meira spent with Theron just warmed my heart. He’s a keeper! Anyway, there’s no crazy cliffhanger, which was such a refreshing thing as well. Things are far from solved but the book ends with hope and possibilities. I’m excited for book 2. Oh, and before I forget, let me just mention that I really liked Meira’s complicated relationship with Sir. As I said before, he’s a sort of father-figure to her, but he’s super protective and won’t give Meira the opportunities she wants. Therefore, Meira is always frustrated with him but keeps trying to prove herself and have him see her for who she is, and not the girl he wants to see. (And last thing, I promise: the rest of the Winterian refugees were completely forgettable, sad to say. They’ll probably have bigger roles to play in sequels, but here I couldn’t ever remember their names because it was obvious they, specifically, weren’t critical to the plot. Okay, done.) I do highly recommend Sara Raasch’s debut. It’s a very enjoyable book, a lighter high fantasy novel, that, while not perfect, is very satisfying. ♦
So tell me…
Have you read Snow Like Ashes? If you haven’t, would you be interested to? What was the last high fantasy novel you read? Comment below letting me know! And, as always, happy reading!