Image and blurb from Amazon:
“A striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self—perfect for fans of Game of Thrones, An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses.
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. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter 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—only to find 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 thoroughly enjoyed this story. I pretty much read it in one sitting which is always a good sign. While the plot originally seemed fairly typical of a YA novel (kingdom overrun by evil, young unlikely protagonist fights to reclaim her kingdom, etc) there were quite a few twists and turns throughout the story that I enjoyed.
It took me a while to catch on to the structure of the world in Snow Like Ashes, but once I did I appreciated the world-building. There are eight kingdoms, four Season and four Rhythm. Many of the cities are a play on the names of months such as Jannuari and Abril. Each kingdom has a magical conduit that helps ensure prosperity for the people (good health, agriculture, etc). The way magic was incorporated into the world was clever. It was used in concert with nature to provide for the kingdoms, which is fitting with the structure of the world!
Yes, there is a lot of information shared when you first start reading but I felt it was necessary to understand the workings of Meira’s world and the relationships between the kingdoms. Meira’s kingdom is Winter, and sixteen years ago they were conquered. There are not many Winterians left but they are planning on fighting to retake their kingdom. Mather is the heir, and Meira’s childhood friend. She also has feelings for him.
Again, this has a lot of elements of a typical YA fantasy plot, but pretty early on the book takes a surprising turn and things really speed up from there!
I really liked Meira as a character. She was an exciting, kick-ass heroine. I like that she was so overeager and naive in the beginning. She desperately wanted to be “someone” in her kingdom. She wanted to do anything possible to help, when she was often too young and inexperienced to go on the missions. This mindset made for some great character development later in the story when Meira is forced to face some truly difficult decisions and is faced with the possible extinction of her kingdom. Also, those chakram are awesome! I loved seeing her fight with such a unique weapon.
So then there’s that love triangle…
I actually didn’t mind it, and I honestly think it added to the story. Typically, I am not a huge fan of love triangles because the first love is the young childhood friend who never has a chance when the protagonist meets her new, more interesting love interest. That was not the case in this book! Both Mather and Theron are complex, wonderful characters and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. I hope there is more to see from both of them!
I even loved the fact that later on in the book when things start to calm down, Meria notices that the two boys are still jealous, and how happy she is that that’s all she has to worry about. I definitely get annoyed in some books when something huge is happening (like the fate of a kingdom) and the girl is sitting there dreaming about her man like its the end of the world. The romance here was appropriate and gave us more insight into each of the characters.
Normally when there is a love triangle, I am a fan of the new guy. While I REALLY did enjoy Theron, I loved Mather as well! He is such a beautifully complex character and I am not ready to give up on him yet. His relationship with Meira is complicated and I think they both have a lot of growing to do. But he is definitely not this flat, annoying childhood friend character that we so often see in YA books. Poor Mather goes through so much in this book and I feel for him! I think he will have a huge impact on future books.
I truly enjoyed this story and I while I was pleased with some of the directions the plot took, I still felt as if it lacked that extra step of originality. However it does have excellent character development and world-building. I am not desperately running to pick up the next book but it is definitely on my TBR! 🙂