Saturday, December 27, 2014

Snow Like Ashes

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

I came across this book when I stumbled across an ARC giveaway on Twitter and Snow Like Ashes became one of my most anticipated books of 2014. I knew right off the bat that I was going to love this book, I didn't know I'd love it as much as I do though. On top of that, I got to know Ms. Raasch a bit through Twitter (wonderous thing, twitter) as well and I want to include that she is seriously a beautiful human inside and out. I love this book on a deeply personal level, I feel like I learned from it, which is one of the greatest feelings a book can give me. 


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.

Personal Opinion:

I took notes while reading Snow Like Ashes because I could feel myself getting so caught up in the story that I didn't want to forget the points I wanted to touch on here when I got caught up in the sorrow that is finishing a great book, and boy am I glad I did because I still feel very heavy, like I could burst into tears at any given moment for any given reason. 

The first thing I want to touch on is that this book reminded me of one of my favorite series ever, which is the Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder. I've read those books more times than I can even remember and the reason Snow Like Ashes sparked the memory of it was the way the world was set, the clear way that the set up of the land was described. We're not only given a map at the beginning of the book, we're given directions and oriented so completely that if we, the readers, were ever somehow plunged into Primoria, we'd have a solid grip on where we were and where we needed to go. Being able to understand the world you're being drawn into is so important to be able to properly enjoy it. 

Another thing I want to rave about is how, just like in different countries and regions in our own world, people of the Season kingdoms in Primoria have different looks based on where they are from, looks that give away their allegiance and nationality and I was just so fascinated by the fact that the way each Season's people looked represented the embodiment of that season, whether it be the pale skin and stark white hair of the Winterians or the green eyes of the Spring soldiers. So much thought was put into creating this world, and I will be forever in awe of it. I've read many books which are set in fantasy worlds, and none of them, not even Maria V Snyder's, have captured such a spot in my heart. 

I'm only talking about the WORLD. I haven't even started expressing my love about the characters or the action or the reality, this might be my longest review yet because I want to touch on so many things and if you haven't guessed it yet, there are going to be spoilers on this ride as I lay my feels down for everyone. 

I've talked about the world, now let me touch on the characters.

Meira, oh my god, Meira. I don't know if I should start with how amazing it is to have such a strong female character, or how amazing her character development is or... So I'll go with all of it.
Meira wants to matter, which is something we can all relate to. We all want to matter and just like Meira we all want to matter on our own terms. I, for example, want to matter with my writing. I want to be remembered for it and for my writing to mean something to people. It's a dream I've had since I was young and someone else's writing meant something to me. What I've been forgetting is that I matter for what I'm doing now, the things I NEED to do, we all do. We all matter for doing what we're doing right now, what we need to do. I need to be a mother and a wife and I matter because of that. Meira taught me that and I will never be ashamed to say that I learned from a fictional character, because this is something I needed and I believe, no, I know that many people need that lesson the same way I did. I only hope they read close enough to find that message for themselves because that's the only way they'll believe it.

Theron is pretty much every girl's dream. He's sexy, he's artistic, and he treats the woman he loves as an equal. Girls, if you find a man like that, you keep him because they are so rare. I learned from Theron the same way Meira did, "Be what you need to be, without letting go of what you want to be."
Meira needed to save her people, but she wanted to stay Meira and she did.
I need to be a mother, a wife, but I want to write and read and I will.
He also said one of my favorite quotes in the book,

"That's why literature is so fascinating. It's always up for interpretation, and could be a hundred different things to a hundred different people. It's never the same thing twice." 

And that is so very true. The things that make this book dear to me probably won't be the same as they will to you, or the same as they are to Ms. Raasch. That is only one of the things that makes books my absolute favorite thing in the world. No matter what is inside it, it can mean something to someone.

There are countless other amazing characters in this book who all have traits that I feel I should take notes on, like Nessa, who even though she grew up in captivity, never gave up hope. Or Hannah, whose unwavering love and protectiveness of her people lasted even beyond the veil of death and that it mattered.
Mather, who was prepared to sacrifice himself to save the people he thought were his.

I want to also touch on the theme here and I'm not sure how many people realized the undertones or if they let the truth slide off them like water off of oil. This book gave me a painful reminder that people as evil as Angra really exist in this world. If anyone read this and closed the book thinking to themselves that something as awful as what Angra did could never really happen in real life... well, they're wrong because it did. It was called the Holocaust.
I got the same heavy feeling of sadness reading about the Winterian work camps as I did when I was about 11 years old and watching the slideshow my history teacher showed our class of the horrifying pictures of the emaciated bodies of Jewish prisoners, most of them dead, the gas chambers and most of all, the piles of bodies thrown in deep pits.
This is another thing that makes books important. They remind us of the evils that do lurk in our own world and make us glad, in this case, that we've overcome them.

Things I want to touch on that don't seem to have a place yet:

Frozen berries are delicious, and if you are as impatient as I am you'll know this too and were delighted to find out that you enjoyed a Winterian delicacy before it was cool.

Theron smells like books, so naturally I was rooting for him the whole time, sorry Mather..

The Acknowledgements at the end of the book. I've no idea if that last line of, "You are better than any conduit." snowballed with the lesson I learned from Meira and came crashing down on me with those six words or if it was the finality of the book being over, but that was the moment I started to cry.

I love books that make me think, I love books that make me cry, I love books that make me feel.

Winter has never been my favorite season, I'm not very fond of cold, but the words, "Let it Snow." will always have a new meaning to it for me and I have a pair of snowflake earrings that I'll wear throughout the year with pride, just like I wear black and white with a splash of red to show my love of The Night Circus. 

Favorite Quotes:

"Which means . . . I can shoot things." - Meira

"That's why literature is so fascinating. It's always up for interpretation, and could be a hundred different things to a hundred different people. It's never the same thing twice." - Theron

"Even the strongest blizzard starts with a single snowflake." - Deborah

Overall Rating:


1 comment:

  1. I was saving this book for my leisure time. And I'm gonna read it soon. I hope it'll be good because fantasy is my fav genre