Published by: Balzar & Bray on 14th October 2014
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy/Fantasy, Magic
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | B&N
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 Winterian's 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 always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn't go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into the world of evil magic and dangerous politics - and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
It's okay to say an Author is one of your favourites even if you have only read only one of their books right?
Because Sara Raasch is definitely one of my favourites now.
I wasted no time in ordering a copy of this book (even though it hasn't been published in the UK yet).
Where to begin? Snow Like Ashes was brilliant. Brill-iant. As one of my highly anticipated 2014 books, it didn't reach my expectations. It exceeded them. For someone who adores Fantasy, I have to say that this is one of the best YA Fantasy novels I have ever read and I've read quite a few. I was sucked in and taken by the staggeringly impressive world-building within the first 15 or so pages. It was so refreshing to welcome a brand new world for me to drown myself in.
People may say those who love Game of Thrones would find this book an ideal read, but I, myself, haven't read George R.R. Martin's epic High Fantasy series and I'm not a fan of the TV show, and I still loved this book. This is the start of a sparkling new Fantasy trilogy led by a strong-willed and not to mention, totally kick-ass female protagonist - Meira.
Meira is one of 8 survivors from the kingdom of Winter. Primoria is made up of 8 kingdoms. 4 Season kingdoms - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter which are subject to only one type of climate, taking after their name. And 4 kingdoms known as the Rhythm kingdoms who experience all 4 seasonal cycles as usual. What's special about this is that the people of each kingdom are born with characteristics that reflect their kingdom name. For example, the people of Winter (Winterians) are born with pale white skin and hair, constantly welcoming the cold. I found this idea pretty neat because we get a range of diverse characters! Each kingdom also has a royal conduit - an inanimate object that had been infused with magic by the chasm before it disappeared. But of course, we have our power hungry enemies - the kingdom of Spring.
There is so much I can say about the setting, I can go on for hours but let's focus on the main issue at hand here. The plot is undeniably clever and well planned, there is never a dull moment. With a war in the making, Meira is a character who is constantly trying to prove herself to her kindgom's general - Sir. I love how she is the stubborn yet confident fighter who would do anything for the sake of a kingdom she has never known. She has flaws yet there is nothing that screams 'unlikeable' about her. She is the type of female protagonist I seek because Meira is incredible. She isn't afraid to stand her ground and never allows the fact that she is a woman, stop her from achieving her goal. Especially this one scene where her marriage to Cordell's Prince is supposedly the only way to save their kingdom.
'I jam my elbow into Sir's stomach and rip his hand off my neck. He stumbles back, coughing, a look of shock falling over him. "No." ... "You do not get to lecture me like this is some lesson you're trying to drill into my head. This isn't our training tent. This is my life."'
Freaking yes! For once, women are defended against the stereotypes and actually have some importance other than being used for marriages and alliances. I loved how Meira stood up for this. Another thing I want to add is how some kingdoms require a female heir to use magic. FEMALES. Extra brownie points for that one.
You know what was even better? The Romance in this book didn't overtake the main purpose of the plot. It's brief and doesn't completely consume Meira's thoughts and isn't heavily detailed that it drags on. It was simply perfect and wonderful. Yes, there is a love-triangle, circling around Meira, her best friend Mather and Prince Theron of Cordell. I'm kicking myself about this because I loved both love interests. The author doesn't give you any incentive to actually hate either guy and that makes me feel like someone rammed a knife in my gut and is constantly twisting it in.
WHY MAKE US SUFFER THIS WAY?
I loved the writing and the simple yet expressive flow of words that are easily read off the page. Because it is a somewhat lengthy book, we see actual relationships develop. My favourite has to be between Meira and the general who raised her - Sir. (Or William) I loved how she strives to be acknowledged by him and constantly seeing him as a father figure, despite him being against the idea.
There's so much excitement, intense battle scenes galore and heart-stopping action. It's extremely difficult to put this book down. I absolutely loved it. The characters were incredible, the plot was filled with so many unexpected twists and not to mention that show stopper ending that stole my breath away. FABULOUS. I will read this book over and over, and that means you should too.