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.
Going in to Snow Like Ashes, I was particularly excited because this is a high fantasy book and it had been a while since I’d read something that was honest-to-goodness fantasy. It tends to be a go-to genre for me – I like pretty much everything I read that falls into the fantasy category – and I was really hoping Snow Like Ashes would fit that rule. I have to admit that it took me a bit to get invested in the story, though – there was a romance plotline that I just wasn’t feeling – but eventually I was won over by the action and adventure, the setup of the world, and by the main character’s spark and sass and determination. Meira is definitely a winner!
This is your typical fantasy in that it takes a bit to set up the world the characters are living in. Meira and the others of her “kind” (for lack of a better word) are refugees from the lost kingdom of Winter; they are working to regain the conduit for their land’s magic from the evil king, Angra, who stole it and enslaved most of the Winterians in the process. I found the world for this book to be extremely interesting; you have four Seasons and four Rhythms which make up the locations this book takes place in. Magic is a constant in all of them, controlled via each king of queen’s conduit. The magic can be used for good or evil, depending on what the rulers’ wish, but the magic can only be wielded by a person of the proper sex – some countries have male rulers and some others have female. While Meira doesn’t know much about the magic at the start, she starts having visions of the former queen of Winter, Hannah, and it’s through these that the reader – and Meira – becomes more familiar with how the magic works. It’s all rather fascinating and I found myself thoroughly invested in this make believe world’s history.
Now, I mentioned above that there was a romantic plotline that I, personally didn’t like terribly much. Meira and Mather – the future king – have grown up together and as such have some feelings and UST for each other. Usually I am all about friends-to-lovers, but for some reason I just really didn’t buy the relationship between the two. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Mather, it was just that the “romance” between them felt somewhat forced and false. However, there IS a male love interest that I am thoroughly invested in, and he comes in the form of Cordell’s prince, Theron. Once he and Meira meet (or rather, are forced together), I was extremely charmed by his outlook on life and his easy-going temperament. He is the perfect match to Meira’s fire and spark, and I just loved their interactions and the ways they talked to each other. Theron also had a great quote, which I’m going to share here because I think all readers can agree with him:
That’s why literature is so fascinating. It’s always up for interpretation, and could be a hundred different things to a hundred different people. It’s never the same thing twice.
See? Charmer. ♥
Of course, no fantasy book would be complete without a few plot twists and lots of action. Meira gets to show just how strong and amazing she is, you get to meet Angra who is truly evil incarnate, and get to watch as people who were previously beat down find something worth fighting for. Plus the blossoming romance makes the romantic in me swoon happily. If you’re a fan of fantasy – particularly fantasy with well-constructed worlds and enjoyable characters – do make sure you give Snow Like Ashes a read!