November 6, 2015

Title: Ice Like Fire

Series: Snow Like Ashes,
Book Two

Author: Sara Raasch ♠ @seesarawrite

Published: October 13, 2015

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 479

Genres: Young Adult ♠ Fantasy ♠ Magic

Source: Edelweiss

Summary from Goodreads: It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 11/11/2015): 3.90

Christina loved the first book in this series.
Her review of Snow Like Ashes can be found here.

  • Christina thought this title was unbalanced. It goes on her third 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:
3.5 stars! *sobs inconsolably* To say I wasn’t a bit disappointed in how this novel evolved would be a lie. After having loved and showered Snow Like Ashes with an abundance of praise, I went into this novel ready to be swept into a magical world of rebellious warrior queens, charming princes, and a ferocious squad of Winter survivors ready to take back their lands by sheer will and determination. What I was met with was anything but that… until the very end that is, when Ice Like Fire finally showed a glimpse of what the novel should have been– breath-taking, heart-clenching action and surprises that left the pages a blur beneath my fingers as I raced to the dramatic finish. It was because of that conclusion that this novel made it above three stars. I hate to state the obvious, but I very much feel like this book suffered from a serious case of Middle Book Syndrome. *long sigh*

The Lowdown: Three long, indebted-to-Cordell months have passed since Winterians were freed from the rule of Angra, and still Meira feels as trapped as ever–to her conduit purposes, to her people, and beneath the thumb of the conniving, self-serving Cordell ruler, Noam. When forced excavation of her land’s mines finally uncover the magic chasm, one more invisible boulder falls heavily on Meria’s shoulders. But the chasm and all the magic behind it’s door can’t be released without the three keys that keep a magical barrier in place and the door locked. Through clues inlayed on the door, Theron and Meira know they need to travel to different kingdoms to locate the missing items, but each royal has their own reason for wanting the keys. Meira wants to keep the chasm and the magic inside locked away forever. Theron wants to free the magic so that every person, no matter birthright or prestige, may have magic to fend for themselves. But Meira is keeping secrets, about what unlocking the magic will do and the evil it can breed, and she’s running out of time to save her people and herself. She finds new, unexpected allies in different Season and Rhythm kingdoms, but it’s the work of dark forces playing just beyond her reach that end up surprising everyone.

Review: I feel like everything I loved about the first book- the heroics of the characters, the effortless, perfect pacing, the engaging plot- was visibly absent from this second installment. I wanted to rage during the first three quarters of the novel for how it dragged along and for how all the people that I loved so fiercely in the first novel were diminished to meeker versions of themselves now. It was an almost overwhelming amount of angst driving this novel and the characters within it. Divided between Meira and Mather’s perspectives, there’s an unhealthy dose of self-loathing and pity parties that dragged the pace significantly, not to mention how it made the headspace of both these characters an unpleasant place to dwell in. It was an endless cycle of all the ways they’d failed or couldn’t handle their current situation which made them make reckless, brash decisions which then transferred to poor execution of their duties which then, in turn, fueled senseless actions carried out by their subjects. It was the same angst and despair and mistakes over and over again. I just wanted to shake the hell out of them, to beg them to find their old selves and to charge into the battle with a shout of fury and weapons raised. I wanted something more. More of the characters they used to be, fearless and ready to take on the world if it served their purpose, not these timid children–because in all actuality they are still kids– that are afraid to step into their roles as leaders.

I will say that there were a few things about this book that I did enjoy. Though nothing significant happened in the other kingdoms aside from our introduction to the places and some key new players, I liked getting to experience them. Raasch may have slightly dropped the ball while letting us explore the inner musings of her main characters’ minds, but her excellent world-building abilities only manifested more in this novel. I liked the diversity of scenery and people it offered, and furthermore, how everything truly came to life on the page. It awoke all of my senses and truly transported me into this world. But probably the greatest aspect of this book was how spectacularly this author wrapped it up. Once I hit the 71% mark on my kindle copy, I literally could not, nor did I want to, set this book down. It may have taken a while for me to find the action I so desperately sought, but once it arrived, it exploded in a magnificent manner. There was treachery exposed, a battle of wills, shocking discoveries that literally left my mouth agape, and a conclusion that had me desperate for more pages to read. However, more than that, it left me truly wishing I had the next book readily available, which isn’t something I expected to say after the first three quarters of the book. It was everything I had been wanting from the entire novel, and it left me gasping at how everything finally came together and truly hopeful about where the author plans to guide this grand adventure next. Wonderful job, Ms. Raasch!

Quote Teaser:

     No–I’m not running away. I’m running toward something, toward help.
     I will fix this, I promise them. Whatever it takes. Whoever I have to be.
     I will not let this world fall.
~quote taken from the eARC of Ice Like Fire at 98%

Rec It? Maybe. I can’t even begin to express how saddened I am that I’m so hesitant to recommend a series I was 100% on board with from this fantasy’s debut novel. This book seemed to be more subdued, but the ending once again renewed my faith that the next installment will be amazing. So, I’m left thinking that I would rec this, but I’d maybe wait to have the next book in hand before diving in.

♥ A very special thanks to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for providing an advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

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