Hardcover, 432 pages
Publication: October 14th, 2014 by Harpercollins
Snow Like Ashes did not start off very strongly for me; in fact, I did not like it at all and briefly flirted with the idea of not finishing it. However, I persisted because the idea of kingdoms separated by seasons fascinated me and I wanted to see how far the premise would be developed and whether it would be done so satisfactorily. Now, the first third aside, ultimately, I felt that the novel, though not perfect, is a strong one. There are some obvious gaps of logic that frustrated me, some questions that were not answered and I will elaborate on this momentarily.
Snow Like Ashes is about a group of survivors from the Kingdom of Winter which was conquered by the Kingdom of Spring. Now, the juxtaposition of destruction with spring is an interesting and one I am not sure works very well but let’s put that aside for now. Among this group of survivors is Meira who has grown up training to be a warrior and when we meet her is fighting her feelings for the crown prince of the Winter kingdom because she knows very well that a union between a prince and a peasant is out of the question.
In this world, a stone owned by the monarch is the focal point of the magic, that is to say, monarchs access the magic stored in this stone and then pass the magic on to the populace. When Winter was conquered by the king of Spring, their stone was split in two. The survivors have one goal: regain the two halves of the stone, join them and return the winter prince to his rightful place on the throne and remove the kingdom of Winter from the grasp of the Spring king.
Meira grew on me. Even though in the beginning, I questioned how the Winter soldiers are able to know and map the plans of a city and building they cannot move around openly in, I was able to move past it and get into the story. Meira’s inability to connect to the land of her birth makes for interesting reading and in one of the most poignant parts of the book, the reader is able to see Meira make a connection to her roots through the writings of the Winterians who died in the slave camps of the Spring kingdom. I liked that the melodrama is kept to a minimum and even though Meira does react explosively when she is told that the only way she can serve Winter is in a way she didn’t think she would have to, she does think things through calmly afterwards and looks beyond the capsule of her own self and her own life.
I also really appreciated the romance. It is a rare happening but I didn’t mind the love triangle in there because it is well done. Subtly, Raasch delineates the differences between the two guys and leaves the reader to connect the dots and choose who they want even though it is quite clear who Meira will choose by the end. The twist at the end was not something I expected and I have some qualms about the way it was executed but I was swept away by the story by the end.
I enjoyed this novel far more than I thought I would and if you are inclined to read this, I urge you to not give up and continue on and it will deliver. A fast ride with poignant moments, with themes of loss, love and identity. I look forward to reading the sequel.