Review Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch

Review Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch

Synopsis: 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.

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
My thoughts:
Did I ever mention how much I love YA high fantasy? Because I do. Love it, I mean. I REALLY LOVE IT. But you know what I love even more than the genre itself? Finding a YA high fantasy book that I also enjoy, because those are so rare and precious. Well, fellow bookish people, I am happy to announce that I found another bejeweled novel that fits the bill perfectly -- Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. Let the fangirling commence. *jumps up and down excitedly*
First of all, I gotta say Snow Like Ashes not only has a glorious title, but that its cover is real awesomeness. Just look at that pretty thing! Don't you wanna pet it?
Second of all, this book resembled on some level the Throne of Glass series and I got serious The Winner's Crime vibes. But besides those deja-vu sensations, I have to say Snow Like Ashes had a bit of everything from the tales we've come to love: the burden of a young monarch that has to rebuild a crushed kingdom, too many vile kings to keep count, a touch of magic and a gloriously fierce heroine you cannot help than cheer for.
The story centers on eight Winterians, the last people of the Winter kingdom, one of the eight kingdoms ruling the world of Primoria. Sixteen years ago, Winter was shattered by an attack made by Spring, one that left in its wake only ruins, slaves and the feeble hope that those survivors will somehow manage to get back the kingdom's conduit -- the land's source of magic -- and rebuilt their long lost home. Among these eight survivors are two fateful figures: Mather, the future king of Winter, and Meira, a warrior girl through and through that also happens to be our heroine.
“Someday we will be more than words in the dark.”
Of course, that was the plot summarized in a few words but there are bits and pieces that proved to be a tad more complicated and will surely become a delight once you read them. The journey was full of imaginative turns, although I have to admit I was able to predict some of the bigger surprises. Regardless, the plot itself had a lot of ramifications that readers couldn't anticipate because the world presented to us was still yet unknown, so that was a source of constant eagerness and thrilling fascination.
I loved Meira. I'd describe her as a mix of Celaena and Kestrel, but with a big dose of childishness in her. Not necessarily an immature teenager, but definitely quite independent (a trait that has a tendency to turn into infuriating stubbornness) and impulsive. Thank gods she's clever. Couple that with the fact that she's fierce and stubbornly witty and you got yourself a new Elsa with a vengeance streak and protective behavior. I reveled in her character-development, because by the end of the book she became an incredibly brave young woman that finally realized the important matters at hand. Plus, I love a girl who knows how to humor her way into conflicts and what-nots.
You know what's next, don't you? The juicy part, the sigh-inducing element, the key aspect of a great read for fangirls everywhere -- the romance. And I'm telling you, start hyperventilating cause we have a serious case of drooling bound to begin upon reading Snow Like Ashes.
There's Mather, the one that Meira is basically smitten about since she knows herself. Then there's Theron, a new guy that had me at hello. Yeah, I wasn't really Mather's fan because I kept imagining Tommen from Game of Thrones as the incapable kings they both are, but I guess he does have some lovable qualities, such as having a gorgeous body and all. Plus, he's royalty -- that has to count up for something, doesn't it?
But it doesn't matter because Theron is crown prince, so potato potato. And this guy, lemme just tell you, practically waltzed straight into my heart and into Meira's with his bookish personality (Dorian alarm, srsly), warrior skills, snark-filled banter tendency and unconditional devotion. All that and a handsome face and an even more gorgeous body. IS HE FOR REAL? I LOVE HIM. *drools*
“I want to be someone worthy of my kingdom. I want to be someone worthy of you.”
No, Andreea, he actually isn't. <-- that was a sad afterthought.
Coming back to the romance aspect, I was afraid it would turn into an annoying and tiring love-triangle when obviously there was no need for it. BUT IT DIDN'T. *happy dance* I was so goddamn excited to see a mature choice unfolding for once (hear me, Leigh Bardugo?), to finally let the sappy, childhood romance dissolve so that the real love can take its course, even though it was unexpected. This created a sweet relationship between Theron and Meira that had me giggling and smiling with my whole face. The whole situation better stay like this (Team Theron all the way), because otherwise Sara Raasch will have a furious shipper here.
“He drops his grin into a pout, puckering his lips and pulling his eyebrows tight over his nose.
I glare.
He pouts harder.
“You’re impossible,” I growl, and rip open the book.
Theron laughs and scoots a little closer to me. “Impossible, endearing. Synonyms, really.”
Some secondary characters were more developed than others and, of course, I loved those more. Sir William Loren was hands-down the father-figure and everyone is sure to love his wise, brave and loyal self. There's even a chance to drop a few tears at some point, courtesy of Sir. I especially liked the relationship between him and Meira, the girl's unwavering respect for him. Then there's Hannah, which was honestly an equivalent for Elena from ToG, whom I tolerated even though she could've been more straight-forward for the sake of the rest of the characters. And I liked Nessa, Rose and Mona, so fingers crossed we'll be spending more time with them. Noam is an egotistical, vain douche-bag, Herod the sick monster (=Cain) and Angra the power-hungry lunatic. Ah, well, there should be some leeches, I guess.
The world-building was one of my favorite parts of the whole book. The idea of having four Rhythm kingdoms (ones that transcended the 4 seasons annually) and four Season kingdoms (ones that kept their defining season all year long) instantly grabbed my attention. I kept going back to the notion of Season Courts from Fae inspired books (ACoTaR reminiscence), but this time the concept was expanded on a bigger level. I loved the people, the traditions, the different ideologies and perhaps most of all the sense of patriotism that connected all characters. Hopefully, we'll get to see the rest of the kingdoms in the following installments, seeing that every one of them is equally entrancing and crazy in their own way. BRING ON THE AWESOMENESS (AND THE SHIRTLESS SOLDIERS) BECAUSE I AM READY.
Snow Like Ashes ended on a cheerful and (temporarily) peaceful note. All is not right in the world, but it's getting there one step at a time. The last image caught on my retina is a gorgeously winter wonderland that brought out all the heartwarming feelings my brain could muster that ensured that I'll close the book with a big idiotic grin, satisfied (no cliffy yay), yet demanding for the sequel at the same time (a girl wants to know what happens next).
My only complaint would be the somewhat fast pace. I am a fan of action-packed stories, but I felt that, if given more pages and maybe even split into half afterwards, the story up until this point could've been given so much more substance. In one second this happened and then this happened and then that and now this -- these events honestly could've spanned the plot of more books without it feeling a bit rushed. Maybe I just needed the respiro times between the big deals to be more developed or perhaps more details on key-elements, such as the Cordell kingdom. But the thing is that I still needed something. The story was a golden mine of potential and Sara Raasch delivered a captivating tale, but there was room for complexity, for grandness, for more.
Sara Raasch -- I'm officially a fan of hers. I knew I would like her and this book from the dedication in the beginning of the novel, because if that's not an example of determination and ambition, I don't know what is. Her writing style was quite curious since it seemed to blend a high fantasy atmosphere with daily language -- surprisingly, the combo worked.
So, book lovers everywhere. I've seen lots of so-and-so reviews for this title, but I honestly say that I'm with the bunch that tremendously enjoyed Snow Like Ashes and I urge you to give it a try. I read it cover-to-cover and I was kept at the edge of my seat, my toes curling at the sweet romance and my heart going all battlecry mode while cheering for the spunky heroine and her lot of fearless Winterians.
“Even the strongest blizzard starts with a single snowflake.”
Now, October, please come quicker so I can have more Theron in my life. I won't mind if you kill the rest of the characters as long as you keep him safe, but I guess he'd be a bit upset so whatever. Gimme Ice Like Fire (I'm not below begging, Edelweiss)!

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