Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

In what now seems like many, many moons ago, I met Sara Raasch at DragonCon in Atlanta. (Well technically I didn’t meet her exactly, just watched her speak during a panel but we made eye contact at least once.) She seemed so cool, like I wanted to be her friend so I immediately bought her book…aaaaand it sat on my shelf for a few years. But NO MORE! I have read it and it’s as epically awesome as I thought it would be!

17399160.jpgA 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, 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.

Snow like Ashes is my favorite kind of YA fantasy. The young heroine grapples with identity as she works her butt off to make a difference in the world. She’s deadly with a Chakram (awesome boomerang-like circle sword) but still struggles with hand-to-hand combat. There is a good ol’ fashioned love triangle that has substantial evidence to cause torn feelings while still moving slow through the relationships. It’s like Raasch preheated the oven perfectly before baking this love triangle to perfection. By the end of the novel, it’s been put in the oven and the batter is still rising! My face is pressed perilously close to the scorching window on the oven door as I salivate in anticipation. (Okay, maybe went a little overboard there. Lol.)

This story follows a very classic YA fantasy plotline but I didn’t mind it. It didn’t feel regurgitated or overdone. Within the first few pages, I took one step into Raasch’s world and I was gone, lost, drinking the Winterian kool-aid. The stakes felt real and the desperation of the Winterians permeated throughout the novel, making the final battle at the end that much sweeter. Even though this is the first book in a trilogy, I liked that there was still a building climax that left the reader satisfied even while wanting more.

Now, about that love triangle. Mather is the King, long-time friend and crush and Theron is the newcomer prince. I loved that each character was introduced in such a way that I felt like I knew them even as Meira is getting to know them. It makes my heart giddy just thinking about it.

I really, really like this one and I can’t wait to finish this trilogy.

STARS: 5 out of 5

 

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