Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]
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)
It is always a wonderful surprise to discover new authorial voices to love! Sara Raasch is one such voice, as her debut YA fantasy Snow Like Ashes was quite impressive. Raasch brings to life an exciting new world populated with fascinating characters, settings and lore. She makes use of these elements, inserting them into a story that flows organically from start to finish. Compelling, readable and imaginative, Snow Like Ashes is an excellent fantasy series starter.
Raasch will have readers rooting for main character Meira right from the start. Meira is sassy, spunky and smart. She’s also got pretty decent fighting skills, and a desire to serve the kingdom of Winter with her talents. Really, Meira is the brand of female fantasy heroine I personally enjoy – capable of acting like a lady, but fierce as a tigress during battle. It’s all too easy to like her and what she brings to the table.
There are also plenty of other characters – heroes, villains, civilians alike. Among the secondary characters, there are three in particular that stand out: Mather (future king of Winter), Theron (a prince of the kingdom of Cordell), and Sir (the general of Winter that leads the merry band of refugees). Each one plays an important part, complete with actions and witticisms that change the course of this story. It would be a pleasure to get to know them more, along with all the others introduced in this series starter.
It’s story where Snow Like Ashes really shines though. There’s something utterly magical about the world Raasch builds – a land with magical conduits, various kingdoms and power struggles. The world becomes the foundation upon which this tale is told, and it works. The plot is simple – Meira and the remaining Winterians want to reclaim their kingdom, and are fighting to get the locket (a magical conduit) to do so.
However, the plot does not remain simple as politics and relationships soon throw everything into an uproar – and Meira is in the middle of it all. It’s pretty compelling to watch her navigate through every new turn of events! As Snow Like Ashes progresses, it’s revealed that there’s much more to this mission than just reclaiming a kingdom. There’s just the right amount of fodder to lure readers into wanting more, while still ending the story satisfactorily.
Two minor reservations, however, as a heads up – There could have been a smidge more character development, and the amount of information, while it’s not dumped on the reader, is pretty overwhelming. While I didn’t have much of a problem, I realize that it’s a potential concern for other readers and thought mentioning it would be best.
Sweetness and surprise, tenderness and trouble, mystery and magic – Snow Like Ashes is filled to the brim with all these things and more. From the moment I read the first five pages, it was clear that would be a notable novel. Snow Like Ashes is a debut I’ll be wholeheartedly recommending, especially for those in search of a new fantasy series to fall for.
|a collaboration with Rachel|
OUR QUESTION: What's your favorite season?
There's definitely something about all four seasons that appeal to me - the new green of spring, the heat of summer, the cool of winter and the white of winter. But I harbor a special spot in my heart for summer! I live for sunny days, blue skies, summer thunderstorms. I love being able to wear all of my favorite dresses and flats, always being out and about, and just the general feeling of being relaxed and blissful during the warmer months. I feel like I always manage to do a bazillion things during the summertime too!