Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

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Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes series | Book 1
Pages: 448 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray; Reprint edition (September 15, 2015)
Rating: 2 stars (Leave It!-Choose It!)

The novel, Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch describes protagonist Meira and the other Winterian refugee’s journey to retrieve their fallen kingdom’s locket.

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.

I originally bought this book because of the beautiful cover and how many rave reviews I’d read. Now I regret that decision since I did not enjoy this book very much.

SPOILER ALERT: This review contains a plot spoiler. Proceed with caution.

Throughout the novel, I found myself irritated by Meira’s character. I thought she had an unhealthy urge to prove herself to others, which caused her to act recklessly. At times, I could understand why Meira was frustrated but by making poor choices she proved the other characters’ fears right in a way.

Although I’ve read books with other characters who’ve done similar things, I did not mind so much because they were fairly capable of getting themselves out of these sticky situations without someone rescuing them. In Meira’s defense, however, she does rescue herself at the end using her half-developed powers and she does manage to escape in the beginning, but I thought it was unrealistically easy.

Another part I found mildly annoying (but was not necessarily a major contributor to the low rating) was how Meira often talked to herself in her head: “You are weak. Meira stop!”

I also found the plot to be relatively flat and incidents, at times, I felt did not come naturally and felt contrived. I could only count five exciting moments in the novel, which were not long enough for me to enjoy the book.

Another thing: the plot twists. I think what was meant to be the biggest plot twist (the main orphaned protagonist is actually the secret heir of the fallen kingdom!) was not very well veiled since Meira kept on having all these “dreams” about the late winter queen Hannah, her mother. I’ve noticed that a common trope in YA fantasy is having you start out believing the main character is ordinary and then things happen and they’re suddenly the powerful heir (or chosen one) of a fallen kingdom or prophecy or destiny. In Sarah J. Maas’s Crown of Midnight though, something similar happens to MC Celaena, but for some reason I didn’t mind as much. On a side note, I think the book would’ve actually been a little more interesting if Meira turned out to not be Winter’s heir.

The world building was very confusing at times and not very well done. I thought that the book was prone to info-dumping rather than slowly immersing me into the story. In addition to having a dull plot, I found the plot to be rather cliché.

The basic plot is: this orphan girl lives in a refugee camp for survivors from a fallen kingdom taken over by a corrupt ruler of a foreign kingdom. She likes chakrams and does reckless things to prove that she’s worthy of going on dangerous missions. Unlike her friend Mather, the supposed surviving heir of the kingdom of Winter, she has a connection to Winter’s magic conduit (the locket). Meira has odd dreams about the dead Winter queen and then she learns (surprise) she’s actually the Winter’s heir.

I had several problems with the other characters. Mather (Meira’s love interest) is rather annoying throughout the book and then does something very horrible which makes me dislike him even more (and I did not forgive his character for even if it was ‘necessary’ for the plot). Then there’s Theron who I did not find to be a very interesting character–I thought that his main purpose was to cause an unnecessary love triangle and to pick fights with Mather. Most of the times with love triangles, I’m either indifferent toward it or put off by it and I felt the latter toward this love triangle.

I can’t say I would enthusiastically recommend this book, but other people have liked it, so perhaps I’m among the minority.

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