Title: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1)
Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Acquired Via: Edelweiss
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 Winter rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she's scaling towers and fighting enemy soldiers 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.
You can read Kayla's review HERE.
Snow Like Ashes is one of my favorite reads of the year. Besides Meira being one of my favorite heroines, the world was stunning, imaginative and bleak.
I'll admit that I was a little confused in the first chapter or so with the world and kingdoms. I'm glad that Sara Raasch posted a map of Primoria on her Tumblr, because I did not have the setup of the kingdoms right at all (my e-ARC had a small map in the front, but it was impossible to see on my Kindle). I liked the setup of the kingdoms - four Season kingdoms that each have only one season, and four rhythm kingdoms that cycle normally through all four seasons. It did take a little bit of suspension of disbelief, but it's fantasy, so that's par for the course. My main confusion was regarding where the magic was actually "located" and that was helped by the map.
When Meira was a baby, Spring invaded and enslaved Winter. 25 refugees escaped Spring's wrath, now down to eight when Meira is a teenager. The final eight refugees are now looking for the source of their kingdom's magic which was broken by Spring all those years ago - two pieces to a pendant. Each of the eight kingdoms has a trinket owned by its monarch, either king or queen, which imbues them with magic. Winter's magic passes through the female line, and only a female can wield the trinket even once the refugees find the pieces. However, only one male member of the royal family escaped.
Meira was pretty much all I could ask for in a heroine. She had some flaws, but they just made her more likable. She was seriously skilled with her weapons, in particularly her weapon of choice, the chakram (and the cover image made soooooo much more sense when I realized that it was a chakram). She was a little rash and impulsive, but at least she had the fighting skills and was quick-witted enough to get her out of her self-created bad situations. There were a few instances of whining and moping, BUT these were not induced by a boy (more on the boys later). Mostly, Meira is worried about how she will help her kingdom. She matures enough throughout the book to realize what she wants to do may not be the best way to help her kingdom.
There is a love triangle, but it isn't an annoying one (or not much so). It is pretty quickly resolved, and I think that the choice was the more mature one. She doesn't really choose so much as realize the path she was forced into is the best for her kingdom. It also helps that both boys are equally likable.
My only complaints are that the big reveal is predictable and I wanted more information on the villain. I had to think for a little while before I could even come up with the second complaint. That's how much I was loving this book. I'm glad I started Snow Like Ashes on the weekend because I stayed up past 3:00 a.m. to finish it. The ending was awesome, especially since it tied up a lot of threads in the first book, but also left some unraveled for the sequel, which I can't wait to read.
If you like well-imagined fantasy worlds with a touch of teenage romance and a kick-ass heroine, I think you'll enjoy Snow Like Ashes.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.