Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Release: October 14th 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, YA
#1 in the Snow Like Ashes trilogy
Sequels: Ice Like Fire (#2), Frost Like Night (#3)
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.
Wow, this turned out way, way better than I ever could have hoped for. This novel reminded me why I love fantasy, and why it'll always be my favorite genre.
I'll be the first to admit that maybe all in all, with the names and the whole concept, it might not have been the most creative ever (with the capitals of the Seasons having names like Abril, Jannuari or Oktuber...) but I did like the simplicity of it. It was straightforward, and while it might have been a tad bit confusing in the beginning when they're just throwing around these names, you soon start to get it all.
As for the characters... well, damn. I really liked that the main character Meira was complex and contradictory in a way that didn't incapacitate her to take action. Like, there's so many heroines that have hangups about killing people, or get so caught up in their love triangles they are reduced to blubbering idiots. Not so Meira, which I LOVED about her. Girl is badass, kicking ass, taking names and all that, what a great, strong lady. Yes, she has this habit of going into endless, unnecessary monologues that are repeated way too often, worded differently but in essence, having the same meaning over and over. But overlooking that little flaw, Meira was fucking great (also, chakrams are really cool).
The other characters also kind of crept up on me without noticing, so by the time they're all getting ready for battle and prepared to leap into war, I am sitting here seriously fearing for their lives. I don't know how this has happened, but it has, and now I don't quite know what to do about that. Also, the platonic/"familial" relationships were soooo intriguing and well done, especially the one between Sir and Meira was simply amazing.
At this point, let me also point out how excellent the romance/love triangle is. At first, it looked like it would be taking over a big chunk of the book, but thank the heavens — it didn't! And it also didn't infuriate me at all. Like, Meira is able to keep a clear head most of the time, and she takes the time to think about her actual feelings for the boys and act accordingly. She was very mature about this, while the boys... well, sometimes they were, too. But anyway, I think the romance was developed really nicely and slow enough, so that by the time the couple kissed, I might have been like "well, maybe not right now in the middle of battle" but I was definitely also silently cheering and cooing. It was a healthy, co-dependent relationship where both parties view each other as completely equal and I loved that.
Then there's the beautiful writing, that I really admired, especially since Raasch is a debut author. Her word choice was almost always impeccable and fit perfectly to the situation, and her descriptions flowed so nicely.
“The world slows until there's nothing more than the pounding of our horses' hooves, the screaming of the soldiers, the wave of arrows that rises up from Spring's archers and paints the sky with violent streaks of black.”
In conclusion, definitely one of the best debut novels I have ever read, and also generally speaking one of those novels I enjoyed more than others. I can't say that it's one of my favorites yet, but honestly, I think the potential is definitely there. We'll see what the sequel brings, I for one am very excited for it.