Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 14, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Young Adult
Sexual Content: N/A
Reviewed by: Megan
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.
Though the world of SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch is a bit uninspired in its construction, Raasch more than makes up for kingdoms named after seasons and capital cities named for misspelled calendar months with Meira and the other refugees of the Kingdom of Winter. An aspiring soldier, desperate to be important to her people and her lost homeland, sixteen-year-old Meira struggles with being kept off the battlefield and forced into a world of political machinations. She's a pawn, she's a symbol, she's a hero - much like THE HUNGER GAMES Katniss, all Meira really knows is that she wants to survive. That, and she's in love with her best friend, the once and future king.
It's Meira's desperation to be meaningful that drives this book forward. As an orphan of a dismantled kingdom, Meira wants nothing more than to matter, and in the beginning, she thinks the best way to do that is to prove herself with thrilling heroics, daring to accomplish a task her tiny band of refugees has dreamt about for sixteen years. But even though she succeeds, she discovers her act of bravery is merely a drop in the bucket to reclaiming their homeland, and the recognition she hopes to get fails to appear. Part of her desire to demonstrate her worth is so she can show she's worthy of Mather, her best friend and the rightful King of Winter. Raised on the run together, they grew close through necessity, but Meira has cast herself in the role of Unlucky Childhood Friend, always aware that there's a large discrepancy between an orphan and a monarch.
The divide between them widens when Meira discovers that her guardian and mentor intends to use her to form an alliance with a stronger kingdom. She rebels against the role designated for her, furious at having her choice taken away, but she also recognizes that if she wants to be important to her people, she can't be choosy when it comes time to play her part. It's unfair and she doesn't like it, though it doesn't hurt that the young man she's engaged to against her will is a sweet guy who understands Meira on a level most of her longtime companions don't. While Meira agrees to behave for the sake of Winter, she can't help longing to be important for who she is, rather than what she can offer, a longing to which most teenagers (and adults) can relate. Ultimately, 'who she is' becomes the most important question of all. Regular readers of this genre might not find the last act surprising, but it's satisfying, and opens a lot of new doors for future books.Series Titles:
- Untitled (Snow Like Ashes #2)
- Untitled (Snow Like Ashes #3)