Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Book 1 in the Snow Like Ashes series
Source: eGalley through NetGalley.com
Rating: 5+/5 stars
I got this book to review through NetGalley and wasn’t exactly sure if I would like it or not. However, I loved it! Can I give it like 8 out of 5 stars please? This was an imaginative and absolutely engrossing fantasy and I absolutely adored. It was one of the best books I have read this year.
Meira was orphaned during the fall of Winter and now struggles to survive with a small band of fellow Winter warriors. The remaining Winter warriors are desperate to retrieve a magic locket that will restore their power. The only problem is that the locket is in Spring and is guarded by a fierce leader who uses Decay magic. Meira and her fellow Winter warriors go on a mission to retrieve the locket and free Winter from it’s slavery under Spring. However the fallout from the mission has larger implications than any of them could have ever imagined.
First let’s talk about the amazing world-building. This is an amazing world. There are eight kingdoms; four Seasons and four Rhythms. Each of them has a magical conduit that allows their leader to enhance the ability of their kingdom with magic. Generally the leaders will use the magic from the conduit for things like making crops fruitful or strengthening trade; but in times of war they can also use the magic to make their people stronger. I wish more books had this excellent type of world-building it was just so unique!
Meira is a feisty young woman who is excellent at fighting from afar but poor at melee combat. This means she gets left behind for a lot of missions and absolutely hates it. She also never even considered an arranged marriage might be the best way for her to help Winter out of it’s decline. So she feels betrayed and surprised when the man who raised her decides to use her in an arranged marriage deal to get one of the Rhythms support.
I was impressed at the depth of Meira’s character. She starts off as fairly naive, but grows a ton as a character. She is constantly balancing what Winter needs as a kingdom against what she wants as an individual.
I loved the two male leads as well. There is her childhood friend who is the heir to the kingdom, with their difference in rank they have the whole starcrossed love thing going on. Then there is the wonderful Theron, he is a Prince of a neighboring kingdom who is so kind and so wise beyond his years…but still fierce when he needs to be. They are both very complex and awesome characters.
Oh and the bad-guy, the evil wizard who uses Decay magic and has lived for eons, he was soooo amazingly evil and yet strangely complex at the same time. Loved it loved it loved it. Even the side characters were well done, I was nearly in tears reading some of the scenes with the Winter slaves.
The novel is excellently paced with just a perfect balance of world-building, adventure, action, politics, intrigue, magic, and romance. This is one heck of a fantastic novel. I loved the ending to pieces, it does an excellent job of tying things up while still allowing for more story later.
There were so many great things here. I am sure I haven’t touched on all of them. This was just a perfect book, it went way beyond my expectations. It was impossible to put down, I pretty much read the whole 400+ pages thing in less than 24hrs. Yes, I was tired when I was done but I was also sooo excited to see what comes next. just writing this review makes me want to go sit down and read the whole thing again.
Overall an absolutely fantastic and amazing fantasy debut. Everything about this book was perfect. This is one of those books where I laughed, cried, and was holding my breath at parts. The world-building was absolutely amazing, the characters intriguing and engaging, the plot was perfectly paced, and I loved the ending. I loved this book, I really did. It deserves more than 5 stars, it was just that good. Recommended to everyone, especially fantasy lovers out there. Fans of Game of Thrones, Sarah Maar’s Throne of Glass, and Kristin Cashore’s Graceling will love this novel. I loved this book.