Like many of my favorite fantasy Novels, Snow Like Ashes begins with a map. There are 8 Kingdoms on the continent of Primoria, each season is its own Kingdom, plus four more non-Seasonal named kingdoms The exiled Winter Kingdom was ransacked, summarily murdered and enslaved 16 years ago. They are powerless, missing their locket (which holds Winter’s magic) since Winter fell. Only 25 citizens managed to escape that night long ago and, of those, only 8 are free and survive today. Are you with me so far, my fantasy-loving friends?

We are introduced to our heroine, Meira, who wants nothing more than to be a soldier and go into battle to help Winter rise again. Meira is decidedly herself, not who everyone else expects or wants her to be. She is stubborn and tough and patriotic and COMPLEX. She says things that you wouldn’t expect from a teen faced with such a dauntless task, such as “No matter what happens. No matter who turns on me. No matter what pompous swing thinks he has power over me, I am still me. I will always be ME.”
Are you thumping your chest yet? Are you ready to follow her anywhere? Because I would follow Meira anywhere, regardless of how flimsy her plan might be.
But Meira isn’t without her troubles. She is hopelessly in love with Winter’s future King, Mather, who has her placed firmly in the friend-zone since childhood. She desperately tries to gain the respect of the general that raised her, named Sir, but he is aloof and borderline cruel. She relentlessly volunteers to go out on missions that may help restore Winter’s former glory, only to be rebuffed by those in power. She has been raised as a soldier, but is left in the sidelines over-and-over again.
All that I’ve just listed is the tip of the iceberg for this fantasy tome. There are also love triangles, ghosts, personal and political secrets, and a bad guy does show up pretty late into the novel. All of this is told in Raasch’s beautiful, time-ambiguous prose that compliments this fantasy story very well. But Meira is the shining beacon from which all the action and story is built.
This is an amazing first effort and a pretty great entry into the 2014 YA Fantasy genre! I would recommend it to fans of all genres, as I practically devoured it without being a huge Fantasy reader myself. Also, I will mention this to anyone opposed to reading incomplete trilogies: the ending was so well done that you could almost take it as a stand-alone book. There’s a cliffhanger, but there isn’t.
I’m not quite sure how Sara Raasch managed to do that, but I’m counting the days until Ice Like Fire, which releases on October 13th. Until then, you’ll have to do with the first 100 pages released from Scribd earlier this week.