Sarah Raasch – Snow Like Ashes

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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.

I was really excited to read this after reading the synopsis, and it turned out to be a pretty good book, just not a great one.

Setting – The world was pretty awesome, with eight kingdoms. Four Kingdoms of Seasons and Four Kingdoms of Rhythm. That sounds pretty rad, right?
Of course, magic is involved where each kingdom has an object that is a conduit of magic and each monarch uses it for the good of their people. The only problem I have is what does rhythm have to do with seasons though like what to heck those two don’t fit together get away. Also the author TELLS us of the magical weapons but I don’t recall them being ever seen/used? Even though the whole plot is based around them and their “magic.”
I find it unrealistic that apparently only twenty-five people survived in an entire kingdom and of that number only eight are still alive, but I went along with it because that’s what you do with young adult books. I really liked the descriptions of each different place’s population. For example, the Kingdom of Spring has blonde hair, green-eyed citizens while Autumn(ians?) were black-haired and tan. Our Winter characters had white hair and blue eyes. The one Kingdom of Rhythm that we see in the book didn’t have such descriptions and imo weren’t as interesting.

Characters – The main character Meira is really a “special snowflake” (It’s supposed to be funny because the kingdom she represents is Winter? Get it?) There’s a “huge” plot twist near the end that everybody probably figured out a while back ago in the book. The whole entire time she wants to do something for a kingdom that she doesn’t remember and she’s trying to figure out how to help them. I was kinda disappointed toward the end that Meira had such a lack of leadership when given the chance to see the other Winter slaves. And the way the book presented the plot twist to the other characters was so mundance and lackluster. It’s like –
“Omg Meira you’re the special snowflake and our kingdom depends on you!”
“Lol really? Dang, couldn’t have figured it out from the freakin’ blurb of the book. Too bad I’m such an immature character that should really grow a backbone.”

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Yeah so that was lame. But it’s a young adult book, so I forgive that. (Really I do) Meira’s frustration on not knowing what to do really slowed the book down, especially in the middle. She was like –
“I want to do this but it doesn’t give me satisfaction anymore so should I still do it? I mean I don’t even like what I’m doing anymore tbh and I’m so confused about the guy I like I mean I should do it for him though right but what about myself shouldn’t I do what I want to docan’tienjoymyselfomgwtfiswrongwithmehowcomeicanadmiresomanyhotguy’schests.”

like STOP.

Egads the love interest(s) though. I mean, I don’t like love triangles but I’ll suffer through them for the sake of the bigger plot in the book, and I’m glad to say that this book focuses more on the politics than the lame romance. Really, there is absolutely no use for a love triangle jfc. However, this also contributes to the annoying case of insta-love that’s going on and that ridiculous trope of childhood friend v. new mysterious guy where both are caring and hot. This really just sets high expectations for teenage girls AND encourages them to get involved with would-be creepers. Thanks authors who use those tropes!
Neither of the guys were that endearing to me just because the author never gives them a chance. Sure, Mather was “always there for her.” What does that MEAN? HOW SO? I get that you guys trained together and all, but all I DON’T UNDERSTAND how you could lurvvv him all that.
And then introduce Theron and whoops byebye Mather lemme ditch you cuz this guy’s hot chest makes me forget about your own hot chest (literally she’s always “affected” by him in one way or the other). As a 15 year old girl I can assure you that not all female adolescence get all hyped up because of a pretty face. So yeah Theron “understands” her because his dad is controlling his life just like Meira’s father-figure, Sir, controls hers and I’m pretty sure they would end up together. Although it’s still implausible that they fell in lurrrrv that quickly over a span of what – a couple of weeks of hanging out? [spoiler coming up, highlight to view] And then she gets imprisoned for a couple of weeks and he comes back to save her like like BAM SEEMS LIKE IT’S TIME TO KISS more like hahaha no. [end spoiler] But according to young adult books most girls are ridiculous like that.
And every time she fought! It was so disappointing! Meira uses a chakram and her close-combact skills sucks (which is presented in the beginning of the book). But literally every time she kills a guy with the chakram it makes me want to weep with the lack of action she’s getting. Like I understand you’re still killing him from far away, but really? Yes a “fierce warrior” that works better from the sidelines. But whatever maybe that’s just me looking out for blood.

“Let me bring out my handy-dandy chakram!”

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Meira’s father figure in the story, Sir, was actually named William so it was really silly for her to call him Sir. Like dude, ewno. (I was wondering why nobody cringed, including herself, whenever she addressed him like so in front of them. I would’ve.) But apparently she called him that because he got really angry when she called him “father” when she was younger. So most of the book is Meira trying to win Sir’s approval (look I’m snickering while typing her nickname for him) until the big plot twist was revealed to her and he wasn’t so mean to her??? Like I get that they were lying to protect her but such a change in attitude??? eyyY???

That Magic Though – So in the book the magic (which came from a chasm that you can mine to get to, although the entrance to that was lost a while ago so the only way you can use it is via the conduits the monarchs have. eg a necklace, dagger, crown, whatever) is used to help the subjects of the kingdom. For example if a kingdom has an affinity to mining, the magic can make the people stronger. In the beginning you see a guy morph from his original body, but that was never expanded on other than the fact that he was a pawn to the monarch (lame).

But the problem with that is you can basically make the subjects invincible, if the need arises?? And there’s a case in the book where a boy is healed because of that power – what? thERE’S ANOTHER CASE IN THE STORY WHERE A MAN IS R E V I V E D because of that power – WHAT?
Their magic is as ambiguous as Queen Elsa’s random ice magic in Frozen.

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In spite of the beautiful setting and intriguing plot, the book was weighted down with its lame characters (still upset over the guys in the love triangle) and even lamer descriptions of magic. Overall, I think the unique kingdoms the author presents are worth the minor details that made it frustrating.

Rating: 2.5

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