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, 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.
I had quite lukewarm feelings toward Snow Like Ashes, which I did not expect at all considering the amount of praise for this book seen on Goodreads. The ratings for Snow Like Ashes seemed to be so calm and non-polarized, and while my experience with it didn’t start off so great, my feelings greatly improved throughout the course of the story. There is a sense of calm and collectedness instilled in the progression, but it still makes a striking impact.
Unfortunately, fantasy worlds do tend to follow a formula, there isn’t a multitude of ideas that can be utilized to create something totally different, but I appreciate the fact that Snow Like Ashes maintained a more unique atmosphere even if its plot was a tad repetitive. This world is split up into 8 kingdoms, 4 season and 4 rhythm kingdoms. They each have their own histories with each other, and the book does take some time to outline that. The writing was a tad difficult to swallow because of all the info-dumps in the beginning, which I could have done without, thank you very much. Interestingly, while there is so much seriousness and darkness in the basic story, I got a very relaxed, calm and collected vibe from the ease in progression. Nothing felt rushed or directionless, some plot points took some time to sink in and other maintained their unpredictability throughout. It might seem a little blase and too quiet for some, but I thought its atmosphere only added to the overall impact.
Meira is so badass, dear lord. For once, a fantasy heroine is more focused on the revival of her kingdom, the politics surrounding it, and how she can contribute in a major way toward Winter’s comeback instead of just sticking to being a pawn that wears pretty dresses and eat fancy food all day. I might be calling out a few specific heroines on this one, but I miss the times where female fantasy characters didn’t sit their asses down on plush couches, wear long, glittery ballgowns, and dignify us with extensive passages on their makeup and hair and dressing when getting ready for a royal ball. It seems as though all these fantasy novels take place in palaces and castles, and all the political engagement we get from the main character is how her involvement in the inevitable love triangle is a problem. While Meira does experience the #royallyfe for a bit after getting into a political alliance with the Rhythm season Cordell, her strength and loyalty toward her kingdom, her relentless fight to discover her role in Winter’s revival, and her determination to stay true to herself throughout make her not only a badass female character but a relatable one. She was this book’s biggest asset and biggest victory, I loved her narration and can only hope she doesn’t turn into a wuss in the sequel.
I will never understand why Raasch decided to add in a damn love triangle, but I have to commend her for not putting that much emphasis on it. I think we have entered a new era of YA fantasy in which the political sides of each world is finally payed attention, but it doesn’t mean the romances stay in their lanes and not take over the plot. Theron and Mather are both interesting and layered characters (even if they get on my nerves a whole lot), but it’s clear their involvement with Meira isn’t supposed to be entirely developed in this book, which is why the triangle itself has a minimized page time. Meira, being the badass that she is, doesn’t really give a fuck about her ‘feelings’ for the boys, and by this, I mean she has the good sense to not describe their bodies in full detail and not angst about both of them constantly. She’s the ultimate gift, honestly.
Snow Like Ashes doesn’t do much different from other YA fantasies, but if you want an engaging, fast-paced, adventurous read, with an actually competent leading lady, this book is definitely for you. I’d recommend it to everyone, honestly.