Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Publication Date: October 14th 2014
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.
Snow Like Ashes was one of those books that from afar I looked at and thought, 'Yes, I need to read you.' The cover was intriguing and the plot had me hooked - I just needed to actually find the time to read it. When I eventually did, I was so glad as I thoroughly enjoyed it! The setting of Primoria was extremely unique, the world being split into both season and rhythm; the way the story was crafted around these factors was fascinating to read and unbelievably enjoyable to indulge within. Raasch provides her readers with a phenomenal, medieval YA fantasy novel to become completely absorbed in.
Right from the get go, readers are pulled into a story already in drastic motion - and for readers I often think this is the most crucial incentive to want to continue on with a story. Revealing the tragedy of the Winterian's past, readers are instantly captivated to read on. Raasch provides a plot line that just keeps on giving - giving reader's romance to root for, a vindictive enemy to loathe and a strong female protagonist to spur on throughout as she fights her way through her journey. As the plot progresses, reader's are provided with a constant array of events, meaning there is never a dull moment. Although a war is beginning to rage in the background, it is the character's inner turmoils that really turn heads in this novel. From Meria's internal struggles with adapting to prove herself as a warrior, or Mather's fight as Winterian's royal, readers are constantly kept on the edge of their seats with some new twist in the tale.
The world of Primoria is vast, and whilst only a small portion of it was explored in the first book, you could feel the potential oozing out of every page. Exploring the history of the conduits through Queen Hannah's memories, readers are provided with a fuller and richer reading experience by which they can truly feel part of the novel's world and understand it's culture. What I adored to read about in this world was how the character's reflected the traits of the kingdom they came from. Whilst Meira and the Winterians were pale of skin and snow white of hair, the people of Spring don golden hair and green eyes. As the links to the kingdom's was plain and clear to see, it made the ability to picture them in one's mind incredibly easy.
When speaking of characters, Snow Like Ashes had no short amount of them and right at the forefront of those characters is our protagonist, Meria. As an individual, Meira is headstrong, determined and feisty and as a main lead, she not only is remarkable but also rememberable. One of the things I often dislike about female leads is that there is that often doubt in upholding their own beliefs. In Meria's case, there are several occasions where she strives to fight for herself and her own beliefs and that is what makes her strong. Never does she belittle herself for being exactly who she is; never does she allow herself to be beaten.
Now quite often in books I will always find some element that makes me want to tear my hair out, and the majority of the time it is to do with the dreaded love triangle. Whilst Snow Like Ashes is no exception to the use of the love triangle, there is something about it that doesn't grind on me as usual. There were a few things right in the beginning of the novel (such as the constant side glances and never ending lip-bites) that made me question whether at times I wanted to continue. Thankfully, the plot and the world gave me more of an incentive to venture on than the annoyance of an initially torturous romance ever could. The more the novel went on however, the more I tolerated and at times actually enjoyed it. The two characters, Mather and Theron were both incredibly interesting - although I must admit I am totally Team Theron. Mather for me was moody and ignorant at times, whilst Theron was consistent in his development.
Overall, the twists and turns in this novel definitely kept me on my toes as I turned each page. I sped through the book quicker than I had imagined, and whilst at times some elements were predictable, I found them to be so in a very positive way - strangely. If you are a lover of high fantasy, dictators and a unique and developing world then this is definitely a book you should be picking up. There is so much potential for this world to continue to keep growing and I cannot wait to become a part of it as I explore further into the second and third volumes of Meira's story. I award Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch a 4 out of 5 stars on my classification scale. I eagerly await the next surprise in store from a very talented author.