I received this book for free from Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 14th 2014
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Book Expo America
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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.
I tried really hard to like Snow Like Ashes. Really hard. There are a lot of things a person might try to do. You can try to ride a bike. Try to draw. Try to, I don’t know, jump off a cliff. And that’s when I realized I was being completely ridiculous. You can’t force yourself to like something no matter how hard you try. So I stopped trying and just continued reading, mostly because I really hate DNFing books, and took the pressure off of myself. Needless to day, Snow Like Ashes never improved for me.
Be warned that this review will be full of spoilers, but not really since you can figure everything out by the second chapter. But I thought I’d at least throw it out there.
The basic premise around Snow Like Ashes is one you’ve read before. There’s a kingdom that has been ruined by an evil king of another kingdom, imprisoning its subjects and killing the queen. However, a few survive, including a knight, an heir to the throne, an orphaned girl and a bunch of other people who serve absolutely no other purpose other than existing. For 16 years, this group seeks a magic locket that will somehow help free their people and restore the magic of the Winter kingdom.
The story is told from Meira’s point of view, a girl who was orphaned during collapse of Winter. She’s just a normal girl trying to fit in and belong to the cause. A girl who prefers combat over dresses. Meira is not a terrible heroine, but one I had zero emotional connection with. If you are like me, you’ll probably start wondering from chapter one why the author decided to tell this story from Meira’s point of view. And by chapter two you’ll notice a few things:
– Mather, the heir to the Winter throne, flinches when he is referred to as the king
– Sir told Meira from a young age not to call him “father”
– The magic of Winter is always passed down to a female
– Sir never lets Meira go on the dangerous missions, but somehow it’s a great idea to send their heir, Mather…
– Mather feels bad that he won’t be able to use Winter’s magic even after they get the locket back
And if that’s not enough to persuade you that something fishy is going on there are these clues by 40%:
– Of course Meira would be betrothed to a Prince and promised a title after Winter was restored
– The Cordellan king calls Mather king in italics
– Hannah, the dead Queen of Winter, appears in Meira’s dreams all the time
Am I being subtle enough for you?View Spoiler »Meira is the heir of Winter and she’s one hell of a hipster princess. « Hide Spoiler
Unfortunately for me, that killed most of the enjoyment I might have received from Snow Like Ashes. Knowing the big plot twist from the very beginning diminished my anticipation of getting to the end and having that “AH HA!” moment that I love so much in stories.
The world in Snow Like Ashes is a basic one. There are 8 kingdoms: 4 Seasons and 4 Rhythms, each with their own conduit filled with magic. Spring is ruled by Angra, a dominating and oppressive leader hell bent on destroying Winter. The reason why he’s so focused isn’t very clear and I’m thinking that might be part of the deeper plot of the trilogy. The issue I had is how the world is described to the reader. Info dumps plague Snow Like Ashes in the worst possible way. But then it’s taken a step further with Meira giving explanations of the info dumps.
Just as Winter focused its magic on mining, Coredell focuses its conduit on opportunity–on helping its citizenswork a situation in their favor so they get the most out of it. Opportunistic, resourceful, swindlers: whatever they’re called, they can make “leaves turn to gold”–a Cordellan phrase Sir explained in our many lessons, referring to the fact that they’re so good at turning a profit it’s as if they make leaves on a tree turn into gold coins. That explains Captain Dominick’s curse earlier–golden leaves.
Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t need this explanation and many times it felt like Meira over-monologued her monologues and talked her way into complete circles. This coupled with a plot that felt very contrived, especially in the beginning, didn’t always make for an enjoyable reading experience for me.
– Meira is allowed to go on a really dangerous mission to collect half of the locket because Mather lies to Sir about her besting him in close range combat. A lie that was not at all convincible.
– This is Meira first dangerous mission and she just happens to overhear where the locket is located by people who were warned not to speak the location out loud.
– After 16 years of trying to get this half of the locket, Meira succeeds because this really dangerous villain put her on a horse, conveniently, without checking her first for weapons, and she gallops away.
– Shockingly, no one pursues her.
I just don’t buy that. Just like I don’t buy the names of the Seasons’ capitols: Juli, Ocktuber, Jannuari and Abril. Sure these may seem like great obvious choices to play off months in which these seasons flourish if you live in the Northern Hemisphere of the world. But if you perhaps live in Australia or Asia, January is the exact opposite of winter… it’s summer. It was little things like this that left Snow Like Ashes feeling very unpolished.
And now I feel bad because I haven’t exactly said anything good about this book. But the thing is, nothing really sticks out for me. Snow Like Ashes failed to completely capture my interest and, therefore, is more of a meh read. One that isn’t terrible, but that I won’t remember much about to actually recommend it to someone.
But there was one scene that stuck out: the dick fight. Prince Theron and Mather just had to flex their muscles at each other over Meira. I understood Mather’s reaction because he’s in love with Meira and doesn’t like the idea of her marrying Theron. But what about Theron? Pride maybe? Is he territorial? All I know is that, Mather started beating on his chest and Theron thought that was a great time to start comparing dick sizes.
“No matter what I use, I always hit my mark.”
Things just start getting more and more ridiculous from there with Meira’s monologuing.
No man can refuse to answer that call.
It’s the kind of sword fight Sir has told stories about…
Sir, has warned Meira of these Mythical Fights of the Dick.
Meanwhile, I was all…
— Steph Sinclair (@Sailor_Stephie) February 19, 2015
So yup, that was the best part of the book and then it got boring again. I find out the big plot twist and discovered… oh wait… I already knew the plot twist and that made that little scene really anticlimactic. At that point, I was just waiting for the book to end. I had gotten that far and refused to give up because I’m really stubborn and I enjoy torturing myself. Though, in hindsight, I probably should have stopped.
Basically, this book just wasn’t for me. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out, but if you do decide to give it a go and you aren’t impressed by chapter 5, chances are it isn’t for you either.