Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Published by Harper Collins on October 14th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Survival Stories, Love & Romance, Family, Orphans & Foster Homes, Fantasy & Magic
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A striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self—perfect for fans of Game of Thrones, An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses.
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.
No matter what happens, no matter who turns on me, no matter what pompous swine thinks he has power over me, I am still me. I will always be me.
Okay, let’s get some things straight first.
Q: Will this book offer a never before seen plot with mind-blowing originality and absolutely definitely no love triangle?
Q: But did I get completely sucked into this world and ended up wildly entertained for the last few hours in which I read the book in a single sitting?
A: Hell yes!
Anyone who’s a fan of YA fantasy will recognise familiar elements of the genre in Snow Like Ashes. A strong heroine, royal politics, reclaiming a stolen kingdom, a touch of magic and, yes, even a love triangle. But it is in the details of this story where the book finds its strength and still manages, in my opinion, to stand out from many of a similar ilk.
For one thing, I absolutely loved Meira. She’s as badass as Katsa from Graceling but without the troubling pseudo-feminist propaganda. From the very beginning, she wants to fight for the Winterians, she refuses to be beaten down by the expectations of others, but she is also a flawed, complex and sympathetic character.
However, she doesn’t hold up this novel alone. ALL the characters are well-developed and the character dynamics are superb. Raasch has built up an interesting and complicated web of relationships between them, their situation putting further strain on their ties to one another:
That’s how we all are, too hard for what we should be. We should be a family, not soldiers. But all that really connects us is stories, and memories, of what should be.
A love triangle typically has me rolling my eyes and yet here I liked both Mather and Theron. I can see how their differences could make it a genuinely difficult choice – should Meira be with the soldier she has loved all her life, or the poet willing to start a war for her? For once I find myself excited to see what will happen between them next.
The book does get a touch info-dumpy in parts, but I was honestly thankful for the world-building. The author has crafted a fascinating setting of eight kingdoms, each with their own customs, ideals and magic. The history is woven in seamlessly, bringing this exciting and horrifying place to life in my mind.
And parts of this book are indeed horrifying. Meira and her seven Winterian companions have had a hard life, running from those who want to destroy any chance of Winter’s throne being reclaimed. I just couldn’t put it down. Bloody action scenes give way to shocking betrayals give way to not-so-shocking twists (seriously, I guessed it way in advance, but whatever, it was still fun!).
I feel like I shouldn’t like this. Like I should be pointing out that stupid love triangle and the same old tropes, instead of wondering who Meira will end up with and whether to drop my other books and read the sequel… but damn – what can I say? – it was just crazy entertaining.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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