Published October 14, 2014 · Balzer + Bray
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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 was among the many new fantasy novels I had been looking forward to reading last year (incase you don’t know, I’m a huge fantasy fangirl). Raasch had created an incredible world filled with cunning, impending war, hope, and underlying magic. However, while this novel was fascinating, it definitely has room for improvement.
The best part of the book was the world building. You can tell from the start that so much effort had been put into creating it, especially the history of how the various kingdoms came about and how Spring conquered Winter. Everything in the backstory made complete sense and was so rich I partially wished for a separate novella detailing it!
Meira’s relationship with her surviving band of Winterians was also incredibly touching. Their desperation to save their fallen nation was palpable and so was their frustration at how impossible the task was. On the flip side, Meira could’ve been slightly more mature when handling disagreements with Sir, her guardian since the fall of Winter.
As for the romance… It was no secret Meira had a thing for Mather. Unfortunately, he was the heir to the stolen Winter throne and of course, could not have any romantic relations with a commoner. I would say Meira was a teensy bit wishy-washy with her infatuation with Mather but how the matter was resolved at the end was perfect. The fact that Meira had been the only commoner among her comrades raised various other issues too.
Raasch developed her protagonist’s character incredibly well; while Meira felt the need to restore and fight for her country, she also felt conflicted and confused about how to love a kingdom she didn’t remember nor step a foot in since being a newborn. I loved that she wasn’t completely gung-ho about giving her life for Winter until a certain turning point in the story.
On her journey in this first instalment, Meira also met some other interesting people… namely, Theron, heir to the throne of Cordell. Where’s Cordell? Well, just read the novel and find out. Anyway, I’m a pretty big fan of Theron. He’s got an amazing heart and a lot less baggage than Mather and a better fit for Meira and… I should stop. But Theron is very underrated.
The plot, on the contrary, was slightly overrated. I saw the major plot twist coming from the first chapter but admittedly, it was because I misread something in the synopsis that swapped the roles of two characters and it was only after 20 pages that I realised my mistake. By then, I got too used to seeing said two characters the way I started which made the plot twist far from a surprise for me.
I’m sorry if that previous paragraph was confusing to those who have not read Snow Like Ashes but I’m pretty sure those who have will get it!
Despite being a rather good debut, I felt that the story was missing the punch that will hit readers right in the heart and make you want to put your life on hold just to finish it. Nonetheless, I’ll definitely be continuing this series because it’s still precious and I can’t resist learning more about the unique world of Primoria!