Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Snow Like Ashes is compared to Game of Thrones, and though I don’t know too much about GOT, I do know that it has many kingdoms, and everyone is fighting for ultimate authority. Snow is just that, and Meira is determined to be important to the cause—rescuing Winter’s people from slavery and restoring Winter’s kingdom. I liked Meira’s determination. As often as she’s told she’s not good enough, she never wavers in her resolve. The Winterians seem like a hopeless cause; most of the population enslaved by Spring, only Meira and seven others escaped and survived to live as fugitive refugees. They also have no magic, which puts them at a major disadvantage. However, it’s partly Meira’s fortitude (and a well-kept secret) that changes the fate of her people.
There are many things I appreciated about Sara Raasch’s story. I thought she designed a creative world and a compelling story. Using the seasons as kingdoms immediately created innate identities, easy to understand and remember among a large cast of players. I also really enjoyed the pace of the story. There’s a battle in the middle of the book, which could have been a final act in a slower version of the story. I’m so glad it wasn’t. I reveled in the excitement and anticipated the next discovery. Though Raasch’s story was a little predictable, I still enjoyed the journey. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll be brief. Another thing I liked–the romance! The triangle, which I usually can’t stand, was tolerable and short lived (hopefully?). Thankfully, we also don’t have to wait long for the sequel; Ice Like Fire comes out this October.
(Update: March 9, 2016 - read my review for Ice Like Fire)
Would I let my teen read this book?
This is a great option for teens who like fantasy. Sometimes it’s hard to find books like this that aren’t graphically violent. There is violence, but it doesn’t get drawn out in detail. When dark magic is mentioned, you never know how dark it’s going to be. Snow Like Ashes has dark magic on what I call the surface level–dark because it’s literally a dark cloud and it can encourage people to do bad things. I recommend this book for kids 14 and up, and even for mature middle schoolers.
Age recommendation: 14
Language – mild
Drugs & Alcohol— none
Sex – One kiss; (and some admiration of bare chests)
Violence – War-related violence; sword and weapons combat; throats slit; guts stabbed; boy gets whipped; two characters are tortured by getting ribs broken and healed multiple times in a row
My Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy: Snow Like Ashes on Amazon.com
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.