Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes, Book 1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published Date: 14 October 2014
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

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.
(summary from Goodreads)

Snow Like Ashes is a case of hits and misses for me. More misses than hits unfortunately. I'd been really looking to reading it and so my expectations were pretty high. In a few cases those were met, but in the more important ways it let me down. 

Snow Like Ashes definitely fits the bill of high fantasy in it's world building. The concept of Primoria and its Kingdoms, both magical and not, is intriguing and I'd be keen to read more about it. I don't mind a fair amount of backstory when it's fascinating, but there is such as a thing as trying too hard to make sure a reader 'gets it'. Each kingdom is spectacularly different and their people reflect that. Raasch could not possibly have highlighted this fact more, and the repetition got tedious quickly. 

This was further compounded by the predictability of the storyline. Only part way through it's obvious what the twist is, and this was the biggest disappointment for me - it's hard to remain invested in a story where you're waiting for the characters to catch up. There's still just enough action and intrigue to keep a reader pushing through, though, and so by the end I did want to finish it, rather than forcing myself. Which is also why I'll at least give the next book in the series a go, rather than write it off completely as I was sometimes tempted to do.

Another reason is Theron. From the summary above, you may be wondering who Theron is. He was certainly a surprise to me. Nowhere is there even a hint that there's a love triangle. It shouldn't have been too surprising though, as early on I couldn't help but question the validity of Meira's being "desperately in love" with Mather when they're the only other teenagers they know. Cue eyeroll. Honestly, I wasn't really feeling the connection between Meira and Theron either, so just another case of not being overly invested to add to Snow Like Ashes. Whereas Meira and Mather are slightly immature, Theron at least is appealing. I'd be happy for him to write some poetry for me, ok? It is too bad Raasch went the love triangle route however. Meira has the potential to be a strong, kickass heroine. I truly believe Snow Like Ashes would have benefited from less forced romance.

Snow Like Ashes is lacking in a lot of areas, despite it's interesting world and magic. If Raasch can build on these though, maybe the series has a chance of getting better. 



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