Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch is the story of a young refugee finding herself and going through hell to help her scattered kingdom. Snow Like Ashes has one of the coolest fantasy settings I’ve read where there are four king(queen)doms that are forever in one of the seasons and four king(queen)doms that experience all four seasons normally. The magic in the world of Snow Like Ashes is lost except for eight royal conduits, objects that the royal line can channel magic through to help and control their peoples. How can four of the regions be forever in one season you ask? Because they are closest to the source of the world’s magic, that’s why :D. But I said the magic was lost you ask? It is! Under a mountain of stone that is ;-). As our characters learn quite well, just because you know where something is, doesn’t mean you can get to it, mwahahahaha.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Snow Like Ashes from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Snow Like Ashes #1)
Published by Balzer & Bray on Oct. 14, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 432 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
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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.
- I had no idea going in that Snow Like Ashes had regions called Seasons that were forever stuck in one season and I loved it! Each is called, reasonably, by the name of the season it is covered by and our main character is from the realm of Winter. I also loved the added details of how peoples from each of the Seasons were also changed by the magic controlling their land and adapted traditions and physically to the different climates. The people of Winter have thicker skin and a layer of essentially blubber in order to be comfortable in the cooler temperatures, though this then means they are ridiculously uncomfortable in any heat at all. They also all have completely white hair and a tradition of eating frozen berries to celebrate events :).
- The main character of Snow Like Ashes, Meira, goes through some really intense character development since she starts off rather immature and naive of a lot of the world and becomes very strong because of everything she has to survive.
- The romances of Snow Like Ashes will definitely annoy some readers, however I was honestly convinced of why each of them existed and when I really thought about it, I suspect I would have felt the same way. That’s right, there is a love triangle, but again, it is actually a fairly reasonable thing and the characters involved handle it believably.
- Snow Like Ashes gets pretty darn gritty for a book with a queendom of Winter ;-). I enjoy slightly darker YA fantasy once in a while since it adds a real sense of danger. By the climax of Snow Like Ashes I had no idea who was going to make it and in what condition, love that!
- Snow Like Ashes does suffer from a fair amount of info-dumping. I generally didn’t mind too much because I wanted to know more about the world, but it would have been nice if the information had been worked in a bit more smoothly.
- The big revelation in Snow Like Ashes was way too convenient for me and falls into some pretty common fantasy tropes. I can’t really discuss more without spoilers obviously, but I just found myself disappointed with how things went towards the end.
- Some of the things that Meira figures out about the magic and the history of her world didn’t really seem logical with previous events in the story. Again, I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but I found myself thinking a bit too hard about how everything could fit together into a cohesive whole.
- I kept going back and forth on the love triangle between thinking it would go away and fearing its return. I ended up fearing its return in book two.
- The names of the capitals of the Seasons are close to our names of months but not quite and it drove me batty trying to pronounce them correctly in my head. I really would have preferred them either be exactly our months or not alike at all.
Snow Like Ashes is a great start to a promising new fantasy series and I can’t wait for the sequel. While there were things that annoyed me at times, I’m very hopeful about the second book in the series and can see a lot of YA fantasy readers falling in love with this world and Meira. I’ll definitely be collecting the entire series for the gorgeous covers if nothing else ;-).
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.