Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, comes out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.
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Publisher’s summary: Game of Thrones meets Graceling in this striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self. Sara Raasch’s debut fantasy is a lightning-fast story of loyalty, love, and controlling one’s destiny.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
My take: I absolutely loved Snow Like Ashes! This book has it all . . . chaos, betrayal, heartache, torment, despair and bloodshed . . . all the while still including moments of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice and love. I’m absolutely blown away with everything that happened and I’m more than a little excited to read anything else written by Sara Raasch; more importantly, I’m dying for the next book in the Snow Like Ashes series.
My all-time favorite aspect of this book is the character build. We immediately start to learn the unique personalities of these characters, and Meira is the perfect heroine for this series. As each character is introduced, you almost immediately have feelings of admiration for the character or utter hate. There is nothing better than a story where you can actual have as much hate toward a villain as do the characters in the book. Or when there is a betrayal, you feel as though that knife was plunged into your back right along with the character. I have to say to Sara, “Now that’s talent!” Normally I’d pick several characters to talk about at this point along with the specifics of my love, my hate or my anger towards them, but I’m scared I might spoil something by expressing my feelings about any one character. Well . . . I will give you a shout-out about two characters. First, I have a huge crush on Theron and, second, Nessa is just so dang cute. Both characters you will not meet right away. Is that good enough?
The world Sara created in this book is truly phenomenal, even though I have to admit that I’m a little confused over the differences between the Seasons and the Rhythms and all that. But I absolutely loved the politics! Oh! My! Gosh! There is so much betrayal, backstabbing and desperation when it comes to the politics that it’s just plain crazy! And then when someone actually does recognize the need to be self-sacrificing, it even turns out worse when it doesn’t even work out the way they wanted it to. Or, worse, when it doesn’t work out at all! INSANE I tell ya!!!
I love how, in only one book, there are so many changes in scenery as we get to see the characters’ lives from multiple angles. And, oh my! I’m sitting here thinking that Snow Like Ashes was going to be like most books where we have a storyline that might lead to a crazy insane ending…but no! Sara wants to give us the entire craziness right smack in the middle! Because, even though there are some crazy action scenes throughout the book, something really big happens right smack in the middle, and it completely changes things! Or does it? I’m going to stop now . . . or I might end up taking away some of the awesomeness of this book by telling you about things that happen. All I’ll say is that, at that point smack in the middle of the story, the scenery completely changes again…to very dark. But Sara doesn’t leave it there . . . and there are still tons of moments of heart pounding intensity, with an ending that leaves me craving for more.
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