Saturday, May 30, 2015

Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Read from May 27th - 29th, 2015.

(Source:  Purchased.)

From Goodreads:  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.
This is a book that I had been looking forward to reading for quite a while.  I had very high expectations before I started reading, as it seemed like every review I read had such glowing praise for the book and author.  I usually try not to get my hopes up too much when I try a new author, but I admit I was so excited to start Snow Like Ashes.  I finally purchased it and added it to my ever-growing TBR pile, and several months passed and I never got around to reading it.  I would see it mocking me from the middle of my physical TBR stack, and I would always say, "As soon as I finish this book, I'll start reading you."  But then I'd finish that book and promptly start a different book.  And so it went.  Until finally I found myself in the worst situation for readers everywhere - a reading slump. 

It's been a long time since I've found myself in a reading slump, but there was no denying it.  I desperately wanted to read, but every time I picked up a book, I just couldn't concentrate, and I could only read a few pages before I would have to put it down again.  I tried to blame the books at first.  "Maybe this book is just really boring," I'd say.  So I'd put that book aside and start a different one.  After three attempts, I decided to try one of my all-time favorite books (The Lord of the Rings) to see if it could shake me out of it.  While I was able to read it for longer periods of time than the previous three books, I still wasn't out of my slump.  I endured the darkness of not reading for two long weeks.  And that's when I saw it - Snow Like Ashes, beckoning me to pick it up.  

So I did.  

And it was glorious and wonderful, and I never wanted to put it down.  It exceeded my very high expectations and I was thrilled.  I believe it would have become a favorite book on its own, but because it helped pull me out of my reading slump, I will forever be indebted to it and to its lovely author, Sara Raasch.  It's definitely going to get a prominent spot on my Favorites Bookshelf.  

The main character, Meira, is a young girl, one of a small group of survivors from Winter, who is determined to help restore her kingdom.  She doesn't really remember Winter, as it fell sixteen years ago while she was just a baby, but she's heard the stories from the other survivors so many times that their memories feel like her own.  Her parents died during Winter's downfall, and she's been raised as an orphan by the few remaining Winterians.  Her best friend, Mather, just happens to be the heir to Winter's throne.  His parents, the queen and king, also died during Winter's end, but the other survivors have kept him safe in the hopes of one day reclaiming their kingdom.  The survivors have had to become soldiers, and for the last sixteen years they've been trying to recover the two pieces of a locket, which makes up Winter's magic conduit.  If they can get both pieces, they hope to be able to fight back against Spring, and its evil ruler Angra, and return Winter to its proper place amongst the other Seasons. 

I absolutely loved Meira.  She is such a strong heroine, but she isn't perfect.  She makes mistakes and there are times when she wants to give up, but she doesn't.  She's relatable, and that is sometimes hard to find in books.  I also really liked Theron, the prince of Cordell.  While I'm not normally a fan of love triangles, the one in this book worked.  I believe that is because the focus wasn't on the romance - it was on Meira and the quest for Winter.  The romance was secondary to the plot, and it wasn't shoved in my face on every other page.  

This book is also full of surprising twists and turns, though nothing comes completely out of nowhere.  There are subtle hints dropped all the way through, but they're woven into the story so well that I was still completely shocked at the plot twists.  My jaw literally dropped a couple of times, and I was so happy not knowing how things would turn out before they happened.

Snow Like Ashes is wonderfully original.  It has excellent world-building, a fascinating plot, and well-developed characters.  It's fast-paced, with just the right mix of action and dialogue.  It's just a fantastic example of high-fantasy storytelling. 

This is the book I've been wanting to read for a long time - a book that draws me in and doesn't want to let go, even after I read the final page.  I believe this is one that will stick with me for quite a while.  I would highly recommend it.  

As a bonus, one of my favorite quotes from the book:

Someday we will be more than words in the dark. 

Rating (out of five stars):

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  1. This book sounds good! It's available at my local library, so I will have to give it a try this summer!

    1. I hope you like it! I'm reading the sequel right now, and so far it's really good.