Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Digital Audiobook narrated by Kate Rudd
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 14, 2014
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Genres: Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 422 pages or 10 hours, 56 minutes
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • IndieBound
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, 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 was… exhausting. This book gets a 3.93 star rating on Goodreads, which is very good for a book that people do not talk about ceaselessly and have intense fandoms for. There was a lot of promise here, but I cannot in good conscience agree with the masses that this is an almost 4-star book.
I’ll start with the good: the worldbuilding was really cool. If not for the worldbuilding, I would have DNF’d this novel early on. In Snow Like Ashes, Sara Raasch has built an interesting, magical world. The closest comparison I can come to this type of worldbuilding is Graceling, but even then… that’s more in the feeling of it than the technicalities. There are eight kingdoms in total, each with its one unique politics, motivation, and aesthetics. I never felt overwhelmed with the immensity of it all, because she ties it all together seamlessly. I kept reading for a lot of these explanations – I wanted to know how this world came to be, and I wanted better explanations of exactly how magic worked. I wanted to know how Spring really got so powerful and why Winter fell.
Unfortunately, while these questions may be answered in the rest of the trilogy, I’m afraid I don’t have the patience to keep digging in to look for them and hoping the other aspects get better… because I hated Meira. A good deal of her character comprised of verbal flailing and confusion and complaining. Most the reviews I have read of this book ing her lots of praises, but generally speaking, I found hereto be a bit of a brat? As far as characters, there were two I did like: Hanna and Theron. Both were supporting characters and both will have more depth, I’m sure, in later books. Just… ugh… I feel like they’ll both be reduced to something shallow as the story continues, Especially Theron, as a love interest. Sara Raasch has a way of reducing things to suit Meira’s needs, and it drives me crazy.
And that’s the thing that bothered me about this book the most. There were many times where as a reader, I was asked to accept something that didn’t make sense. Meira was put in a lot of difficult positions, and made it through without any opposition. There’s a couple scenes in particular where she should have had grievous injuries but didn’t, or where she was inexperienced and reckless and managed to miraculously do things many other more seasoned characters failed to do over and over. There were things that happened “because magic!” that just made me roll my eyes. I feel like this book could have been amazing if Meira actually had to prove her worth and truly suffer rather than lucking out through sheer plucky determination and never getting caught for some inexplicable reason.
And listen, some of the things would have been terrible if they succeeded. I don’t want them to succeed! But I want Meira to actually have to struggle to get out of them. That way she could more realistically grow as a character. There’s a lot of potential here, it just didn’t follow through in a believable way.
There are other things. The fact the plot was completely predictable 3% in. The stiffness between characters that made for awkward relationships. Like I said, the world building was really good and there were some cool ideas going on, but the execution was not there. A lot of people like it, and it has the potential to be a book of high entertainment value if you can get past a few things. I can see why people love it, and I’m not out on Sara Raasch yet, but I am done with this series.
Which season would you like to live in year round? I’m an autumn girl through and through – I love the food and the climate and the colors. Tell me your Season in the comments!