I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sarah Raasch
Series: SNOW LIKE ASHES #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on 10/14/2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.\r\n\r\nSixteen 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.\r\n\r\nOrphaned 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.\r\n\r\nSo 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.
A new fantasy novel for your Throne of Glass withdrawals.
SNOW LIKE ASHES had an interesting plot, once you get into the meat of the story.
A fantasy world was torn apart 16 years ago, and one Kingdom is trying to recover their magic through a broken conduit stolen by the evil king of a neighboring kingdom, Spring. Monarchy can use magic, and each kingdom has powers that extend over the people. One girl, Meira, wants to matter to her Kingdom and the war to get back Winter and its people.
I like the juxtapositions of the names against the kingdoms
Raasch created some interesting opposites in SNOW LIKE ASHES. When I typically think of the winter season, I do think of snow, but I also think of long nights, depression (often associated with the season), and dead trees, plants and a world that is basically hibernating. Winter is cold and often unforgiving (if you live where it gets cold anyway). But Raasch describes Winter (the kingdom) as beautiful, pristine and white, like new snow on a field. The subjects of Winter (called Winterians) love their kingdom and are beautiful, generous people who fight for a noble cause. What could be a cold, frozen place is actually one of warmth within its people. Likewise, Spring (the evil kingdom) is described as beautiful, but behind the cherry blossoms and greenery lies a black evil controlled by a corrupt king. It reminds the reader not to judge a book by its cover, and that evil can be beautiful, too.
The descriptions of the landscape were beautiful
The descriptions of the landscape are well-done and vivid. As I mentioned before, the kingdom of Spring is described as colorful and fragrant, while Winter is described as white, cold but beautiful. Raasch has truly developed an alluring world where the reader can step into the pages of her imagination. I really liked the ending. It led to questions and hopefully another novel, because I know Meira is right about Angra (the evil king). Of course, if there is no second novel, it also reads great as a stand-alone. Wonderful conflict resolution in this book.
I liked a lot of the characters
Probably my favorite character was Theron. I think I have a thing for secondary male leads. He reminded me (in personality) of Adrian from Vampire Academy, just in that he was rich and misunderstood in the beginning, but was actually a nice person who thought of others. I’m probably drawing a long line between them, but Adrian was the first person Theron reminded me of. I did like Meira, even though she annoyed the hell out of me. She had good intentions, wanted more from life and for the kingdom she didn’t know first-hand, and questioned what she was told often. And she was a fighter.
The beginning is slow.
I had a hard time getting into SNOW LIKE ASHES. I went into it expecting to love it very much, so maybe it didn’t even have a fighting chance against my expectations, because I only liked it. Although that’s still good, it lacks something that makes novels like Throne of Glass stand out.
We spend too much time in the narrator’s head
Overall, I liked Meira, our main character. She is resilient and a warrior willing to sacrifice herself for the better of her kingdom’s return. But I often found her mildly annoying, because she spent too much time doubting herself and not enough time doing. She waffled a bit back and forth over decisions that needed to be made, when I really just wanted her to get on with it. This, of course, means that there is less dialogue than I like throughout the novel, since we’re always being subjected to her inner thoughts.
The plot was just too obvious and I didn’t feel invested
I felt like I was being led around by the nose throughout SNOW LIKE ASHES. While I don’t mind tropes in a novel most of the time, I think too many of them were used in this book and they were way too obvious. For instance, we have: love triangle forming; main character who doesn’t know who she is (I knew who she was in chapter 13 and what she was by Chapter 19); one main character who happens to disarm a kingdom basically by herself. Cities in the kingdoms (in the Seasons kingdoms) were named after real months, but altered a bit. I didn’t necessarily mind that, but it reminded me of The Selection and America Singer. Cutesy but takes away a bit from the novel, because you’re like, “Oh, Abril (April) and Jannuari (January). How cute. And obvious.” I wasn’t invested in some of the scenes, like the outcome of Sir, the fight between Mather and Theron, the battle in Cordella. In fact, I didn’t really become invested until Meira was residing in Spring. I also didn’t real feel any of the romance; it just seems like a lot of time was spent on Meira’s journey that there wasn’t room left for any romance, and so Raasch squeezed it in where she could.
I think the reason we were in Meira’s head so much was because we needed info on how things happened, what the past was like and what the world looked like. I’m not a fan of info-dumping as a general rule unless it’s done well, and I prefer my info via character dialogue, rather than long descriptions by the narrator as a general rule.
Still a good YA fantasy novel
While it may seem like I didn’t like it very much, I actually did enjoy the story. YA fantasy fans will really dig SNOW LIKE ASHES because it’s a gorgeous world with an engaging plot.
Lies are stronger than truth sometimes.