Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Published by Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 14th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
“That’s what all of us do: keep trying to live, to survive, to get our kingdom back no matter what.”
I’m not the biggest fantasy reader but as my reading tastes expand I find myself coming back to this genre again and again. I am a big fan of world-building and Snow Like Ashes is definitely one of the more complex ones. So complex that I probably should have taken notes while reading because there is a LOT of info-dumping that goes on here. The only Kingdoms I can recall from reading are Winter, Autumn, Spring and one called Cordell. I loved the idea of Kingdoms centered around the seasons. Especially when the physical characteristics are distinguished; Winterians have pale skin, light blue eyes and white hair while people from Spring have green eyes and slightly less pale skin, etc. How cool is that? Magic is also a component of the world-building and again, while there is a lot going on, it really adds a layer to the story that I’m hoping to learn more about as the series continues.
“We moved to Autumn eight years ago, a boy-prince pretending to be a solider and a girl-orphan who wanted nothing more than to pretend right alongside him.”
While the world-building is a little heavy handed at times the strength of this novel lies in the heroine Meira and the struggles she goes through as a commoner, as a Winterian, and as a female. First she is in love with her best friend, Mather, who happens to be the King of Winter, therefore making any love-match between a commoner and royalty impossible. Second, as one of only 8 survivors of the Winter Kingdom, Meira and her people are constantly on the run trying to evade capture. Lastly, the gender politics and inequalities have Meira not only trying to prove her worth as a fighter despite her sex but dealing with the limited choices she has regarding her future. I loved that even thought she literally has every chance she can to just try to survive and deal with these issues, she instead fights back and wants more. Meira is quite simply a badass. There were a few moments that actually left me in tears because of how much I hurt for her character. There is a particular relationship between Meira and Sir (the man that basically raised her) that is especially touching.
“Someday we will be more than words in the dark.”
In the midst of all the action there is a love triangle brewing Meira, Mather, and Prince Theron (I lurve him!). I know some people take issue with love triangles but I loved it. Especially because Meira isn’t the type of girl to settle for just anyone. She knows her worth and what she deserves and it leaves all three in an interesting predicament that has potential for epic romance in the next book. I kept thinking of Graceling by Kristin Cashore when I read this because it’s one of those books that has romance as an addition to the plot and not the center focus and I liked that. Overall Snow Like Ashes had a little bit of everything. It wasn’t perfect but it has the potential to be.