Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Pages: 416
Source: BEA
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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. --Goodreads
Meira was just a baby when her land, Winter, was destroyed, taken over by Spring.  Sixteen years later and the original twenty five refugees who were able to resist Spring’s working camps have become a measly thirteen or so.  Meira tries everything in her power to get back a land, she never truly knows.  Even if that means risking her life for a broken locket.  Or even marrying someone she does not love.  Snow Like Ashes will whisk you away to a magnificent fantasy land and hold you captive like never before.

When this book released, I remember everyone talking about it.  It was a bit overhyped, I thought at the time.  However, now I realize all the discussions about it were most definitely well deserved.  I didn’t know a thing about Snow Like Ashes before cracking its spine, I prefer going into books blind.  It made for a fantastic surprise when Meira, the protagonist, rocked the world with her adventures.
The world-building was on point, total perfection.  All the lands Sara Raasch has created are fabulous, drawing the reader in to know more.  And the great thing also: Raasch doesn’t bore you with history.  Part of world building requires history, within the fantasy genre.  Snow Like Ashes keeps the history to the minimum, not taking away any of the story—if anything, the short history lessons add depth to the story.  Since Meira was just a baby when the refugees fled with her from Winter, Raasch builds upon that fact—the protagonist learns more about the history as readers do which makes for a smoother flow in the plot.

And yes, the plot was smooth.  If anything the plot went by too fast.  For example, they find out about a person’s betrayal, to surrender them to Spring, and moments later Spring is there to receive them.  That is either very convenient or the plot is going very fast.  Some could even say that the plot feels a bit rushed.  Also, it could be in part because the unreliable narrator, Meira, does not know everything about Winter, boys, or even war.  

Meira is an awesome character.  She is not whiny, over-dramatic, or in-your-face confident.  She is incredibly relatable but that is not why I love her so much.  In the book, there were definitely some face-palm moments that had me going, “Why did you do that?” and it’s those moments that make an unforgettable character jump off the page.  I loved Mather in the beginning but as soon as readers met Theron, I was already in his fan club.  Team Theron, anyone?  Theron is a bit of a cliché.  Mather becomes a surprise, included in a huge twist that I will not spoil.  His connection was unseen, where the twist itself was easily predictable.

Telling potential readers there is no love triangle in Snow Like Ashes would be lying.  I have nothing against love triangles but it seems, Meira does.  As soon as she discovered her feelings for one, it was like a switch went off and problem solved.  It’s unrealistic but since the plot felt too rushed, the love triangle was vague.  No one ever made a declaration of love—this is not a romance, after all. 

Overall, Snow Like Ashes will rock your world.  With nonstop action, a quick plot, and a strong heroine, readers are sure to fall in love with Raasch’s fantasy debut.  Winter is coming and with Meira, Winter is already here.

The sequel to Snow Like Ashes, Ice Like Fire just released October 13.  Be sure to check it out.

Snow Like Ashes (10/14/2014): 4 stars
Ice Like Fire (10/13/2015): TBA
TBA (2016): TBA

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