Thursday, March 26, 2015

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Author: Sara Raasch
Published: September 2014 by HarperCollins
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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.

Snow Like Ashes has been on my TBR for a long time now. I wanted to read it last fall when it was released but for some reason I never got the chance. So after finishing The Storyspinner I was whining about what I wanted to read next on Twitter and Eileen from BookCatPin gave me a book on my shelf to read and it ended up being this one. And seeing as it was one I needed to read, I took her up on that suggestion and roped her into buddy reading it with me (how's it going there friend?). After finishing the book I was really glad I took the time to read it. It's a total me be. It was a great YA fantasy read with a complex world, a thrilling plot full of political intrigue, and likable characters.

One of the cool things about Snow Like Ashes was the world that Sara Raasch created. I have followed Sara on Twitter for a long time now and I know she is a huge fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. I am too. That series to me does fantasy totally right. From the setting, to the world building, to the magical system it is all fantastic. And I can definitely feel the influence in Sara's work but it still felt creative and interesting. I was enthralled by the world of Primoria, it's history, it's people, it's magic. Everything was so imaginative and full-bodied. Each of the kingdoms were so different. From their culture and climate to the way people looked.  And yes, there was some info-dumping but I feel like Sara did the tell style of world-building really well and that's hard to do. It definitely added to the story instead of taking away from it.

But maybe because the world-building was so tied to the plot of the story. Political intrigue in a high fantasy novel is nothing new but it is one of the reasons I love the genre. With Snow Like Ashes the different cultures and kingdoms really bread this otherness that led to all kinds of prejudices and fighting. But that also led to alliances, strategic marriages, and scheming that I love in my fantasy. The great thing about Snow Like Ashes too is that while it's the start of a new series it also had it's own unique plot with a clear resolution. There are definitely some interesting places that the next book can go but I really liked that it wrapped things up.

But that being said the fact that the plot wrapped up, led to some problematic issues with the pacing. I was prepared to say that I felt like the book reached it's climax a little too soon, but that's not entirely true. In fact I would say that there was not one large climax but a bunch of smaller ones that moved the plot along. It was a really plot-driven story but at times I felt like it moved a little too fast and had a little too much action. Snow Like Ashes is definitely a thrilling read but I would have appreciated if it had maybe slowed down a little bit. I think if it had slowed down there could have been a little more focus on the mystery and twists. Instead it just felt like it periodically dropped a bomb and then moved in to the next action sequence.

I think my favorite thing about this book was the characters. Our narrator and protagonist is Meira, she's a little bit like the heroines you see a lot in YA these days. She's tough, sassy, and often acts before she thinks. But I loved that about her. I was able to instantly connect with her and her struggle to prove herself. I also instantly like Mather, the deposed king of Winter. He was similar to Meira in that he had this great desire to prove himself. I could completely sympathize with his desire to win back his kingdom and prove to his people that he's a strong leader. And then of course there is Theron, the prince of Cordell.  I wanted him to be more of a lovable rogue and a foil for Mather but that wasn't the case. He was charming and likable but his real appeal didn't happen until later in the book. He had some great development. And of you haven't figured it out already, there is a love triangle here. And while I have a clear favorite, it seemed logical and Meira's inability to make a choice made sense (although if you ask me she totally made her choice already). But those three were just the start of the great characters. There were some tough and likable Winterians, some dubious and complex characters like Noam the King of Cordell, and sinister villains in Herod and Angra from Spring. The characters were a fantastic part of this story.

Snow Like Ashes was a great start to a fantasy series that I am excited to see develop. I'm not sure what took me so long but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The characters were great, the world was interesting, and the plot was full of action and some complex themes.

I give Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are a fan of YA fantasies then definitely pick this one up. It's got a great world with complex characters and tons of traditional fantasy themes like including a lot of political intrigue. Despite some pacing issues I'm excited to see where things go.

Have you read Snow Like Ashes? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I totally failed at buddy reading :( I haven't been able to read SLA at all this week. Actually I've barely read anything (only read a bit of a review book). I've been really busy this week :S So happy you enjoyed SLA!! I need to get back into it because I'm so curious who Meira picks! And since this book has an ending, shouldn't we know? Eeeep I need to read!!

    1. That's okay. I was only partially serious about my comment. I sort of peer pressured you into reading it with me anyway. We should know who Meira picks... but do we? I hope so! GO READ! Yes, I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I took the time. Thanks for picking it for me!

  2. I'm glad to see a review up for this one -- I've been kind of going back and forth on whether or not to read it for a while! But I really am a big fantasy fan, especially YA fantasy, and I have to admit that your review made it sound intriguing. Great job!

    1. If you are a big YA fantasy fan definitely read it. But be warned, it is very similar to some other popular fantasies at the moment. I still found it really creative and interesting though. I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Nice review! I want to read this one. Glad you liked it! :)

    1. I hope you pick it up and enjoy it! It's a good fantasy read.

  4. Haha, I just finished SLA a day before you put up your review :D
    I'm glad you liked it; for me it was the perfect YA fantasy I was looking for in Throne of Glass. Don't get me wrong, I liked ToG, but Celeana was a bit too superficial for an assassin... whereas Meira was believable and loveable (for me at least).
    Fantastic review!

    1. I get what you are saying about the difference between Celaena and Meira. I think the different is that Meira isn't an assassin, she's just a girl who's pretty good with a weapon. I will say though, I do like that Celaena is superficial at times. It gives her character more depth. I enjoy that she likes reading and chocolate and pretty dresses but then suddenly she will just go berserk and kill a ton of people. The tough female protagonists I hate are the ones who are just all about killing it makes them seem dead inside. And now you've given me the idea for a discussion post!