I loved Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch! From the well-constructed prose to the riveting storyline to the examination of how to always remain “yourself”, no matter the situation.
SUMMARY (from the back): 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. 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 the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find 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.
WHAT I THOUGHT: I must begin my critique with the world Raasch built. At the beginning there seemed to be so many kingdoms that it felt overwhelming, but the author sorted out how they came to be. While this first book fleshed out only three of them, I presume Raasch will bring the others in to play in defeating the major conflict as we move into book two.
Another thing I love about this book is where the story picks up…not with defeat looming, not with an enemy attacking, but completely and utterly defeated with only impossible hope spurring on the Winterians. And after hopes have been dashed so many times, few dare to hope again. How many world’s have been built thusly? Not many that I can remember. I love the author daring to rise up, daring to consider the possibility, daring to hope again…awesome…
Raasch also did a masterful job of unveiling a major plot twist three quarters of the way through that made so much sense but took me completely by surprise. I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy and it takes a lot to “pull one over on me” but she did it and thrilled me. Well done.
The main heroine, Meira, is a believable 16-year-old complete down to her impulsiveness and lack of confidence. I admire that she loves her country so much that she is willing to act for what she believes even if it means her own life is forfeit. That commitment makes her someone I could support and root for. The other theme I appreciated for Meira is her wrestling with how she can remain true to herself when those in authority over her dictate so much of her life. I enjoyed her search for answers that work for her. How true that is for each of us…we must seek to always be ourselves despite peer pressure or those in authority over us.
As for a budding love triangle, we definitely have one between Mather and Theron, but I appreciate how Raasch constructed it…not whiny, but testosterone driven guys who will clearly come to blows at some point. Personally, I’m rooting for Theron as he seems deeper and able to appreciate more deeply. Will that relationship be possible though? Hard to say.
I gave this 5 stars.
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