Title: Snow Like Ashes
Trilogy: Snow Like Ashes,
Author: Sara Raasch ♠ @seesarawrite
October 14, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult ♠ Fantasy ♠ Romance
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
Average Goodreads Rating (as of 10/13/2014): 4.05
♥ Christina thought this title was one of the best fantasies out there. It goes on her TOP SHELF. To find out why…
**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.
♠ Quick Thoughts and Rating:
All the stars! Snow Like Ashes is everything I wanted it to be and then so much more than I hadn’t even thought to hope for, too. With compelling characters, unique and wonderfully crafted world-building, and a plot that pulls you in and keeps you engaged throughout, prepare yourself for an epic ride. If you love a badass heroine, a charming prince, and a world filled with wonder and magic, then don’t hesitate to pick up this stunning debut by Sara Raasch.
♠ The Lowdown: Everything you really need to know to pique your interest in this novel has already been included in the summary above, if the cover doesn’t immediately having you swiping your card to have it on your bookshelf. (I mean, seriously, why so pretty!?) I’m trying to hold back on spoilers, especially because my take on spoilers and others seems to vary greatly, so I’m almost afraid to give you more than what’s already been included. However, if you’re needing a little more, here it goes…
Broken, yet defiant girl struggles to earn her place in this new world after her home region was destroyed by a rival territory with a magic-wielding, evil-doer tyrant at the helm of the attack. He suppressed her people, enslaving them in camps, and has vowed to search out the very few rebels that remained beyond his grasp. Among herself and the rebel band is the tyrant’s enemy number one, the realm’s Crown Prince, and his fierce protector and the realm’s last remaining general, Sir. With hundreds of thousands of Winterians reduced to a broken couple hundred in work camps, the last hope for their kingdom is to get the conduit back and restore the magic. So, the journey begins. The Crown Prince makes a deal that causes a huge rift between him and the girl. The girl has to learn about her inner fight to become a warrior (and she’s awesome at it, fyi). A romance blossoms with the Crown Prince of a Rhythm kingdom when an alliance is made to provide protection and to take up arms. There’s heartbreak, betrayals, captures, pain, loss, epic battles, magic-in words, in people, and in the real sense of the word- and joyous triumph, all the great things I love about fantasies.
“Even the strongest blizzard starts with a single snowflake.”
~quote taken from the eARC of Snow Like Ashes at 76%
♠ My Thoughts: First, a little history between me and this book. This title is one that I’ve been waiting on for the longest this year. Having to bide my time and trudge through my TBR pile that came out before it was torture (in the best way possible- most of time- of course). Finally, though, finally I worked my way to it and then I got nervous. Despite the many raving reviews, I’m almost always worried about titles that I’m giddy about because even when I try not to, especially with fantasies, my expectations skyrocket and I’m usually disappointed. But alas, I dove in and blessed be, it was glorious. I raced through the pages, falling in love with all the splendor and heart and desperation that Raasch infused in her words and her characters on each page. So, my reservations and fears were unwarranted, Snow Like Ashes delivered in all the ways that I value important and in so many more ways, too.
The characters were exceptional. Diverse and dimensional and brimming with depth and individual personalities, it was easy to connect to the main characters as well as the secondary cast supporting them. Meira was by far my favorite, which is something considering I’m very picky about my girl-crushes. While she’s badass, a fighter with spirit and snark, it was the vulnerability that she expressed that really had her jumping out of the pages and into my heart. That clawing desperation to belong and feel needed, to feel important and cherished, is something that I think many can relate to, and it helped me identify with her character all the more. The love interests, though somewhat love-triangle-y but not really, definitely tugged at my heart and had it pitter-pattering a little bit. I can’t wait to see what more is in store here.
As for the overall plot arc, it was fantastic. I loved seeing the characters transition throughout and how that influenced the flow of the story. While there were a few twists that caught me by surprise, I was pretty confident about the major one from early on in the book, and I was right about it. That being said, aside from a few sections of text laying out the building of this grand world, the storytelling moved along effortlessly and I devoured it within a few hours. (Just picking this up a little before bed, she said. I’ll put it down when I get sleepy, she said. Stayed up until 4AM when she had to be up at 5:30, she did. Worth every sleep-deprived moment, though.)
One of the best aspects of this novel, though, is how it can be read as a complete stand-alone. Raasch crafted an enchanting tale and concluded it with a satisfying ending that almost makes the wait for the next installment tolerable. However, after falling hopelessly in love with this book (and quite possibly its author, she’s amazing and you should follow her on twitter, you guys), I can’t wait to get my greedy little hands on more Theron… I mean, the sequel.
♠ Rec It? Abso-freaking-lutely. Don’t put this on your TBR, buy it and move it to the top. This series and author are definitely ones to watch.
♠ A very special thanks to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.