Admittedly, I was disappointed by Snow Like Ashes and had to push myself to finish. Readers who aren’t as concerned with logic or better writing will be satisfied with this teen fantasy romance. But comparing it to Game of Thrones or describing it as a high fantasy is stretching it a bit; what we have is a love triangle romance with a (honestly kind of silly) world thrown around it.
Story: Meira and 7 others are the only group to escape the sacking of the Winter kingdom years previous. In order for Meira’s secret love, Prince Mather, to take back his crown, he needs to find two halves of a locket that are the key to his kingdom’s magic. While seeking the magic locket, Meira is thrown into the company of young Prince Theron, heir to a different kingdom. She is torn between which of the two handsome princes she really loves.
Writing: From the beginning, I had a hard time with the writing. There are a LOT of cliches in there (orphaned girl who may be special, romancy anguish when people should really be concentrating on surviving, forced marriage to a dreamy prince, etc.). Couple that with very modern sounding dialogue and already there is not a lot to really grab onto and keep interest. But when very little happened at the 60% mark except Meira alternately yelling at her princes or skipping heartbeats at their naked chests – I was getting bored.
Worldbuilding: we’re given a lot of tell but with no show. In a supposedly magical world – it would have been nice to actually see magic. We’re told of this intricate magic system but don’t really get to see it until very late in the book. But the big problem for me had to do with glaring logic holes. E.g., the Kingdom of Winter has inhabitants who all have blonde hair/blue eyes. The other ‘seasonal’ kingdoms also have distinct hair/eye/skin colored people. But all the kingdoms are next to each other and interact and intermarry. So I’m not sure how it would be possible for them to have any history (trading/intermarrying/intermingling) and yet still all have distinct features in thier particular kingdoms. The logic of the worldbuilding only makes sense as a construct of an author’s mind and not as a society that could have actually organically grown to this result. It was hard to take the world seriously.
Romance: it’s the romance that will keep teens reading, even if it is yet another 3-way. I found both princes rather flat and bland – lacking nuance and depth of character. They were handsome accessories for Meira but not really an intricate part of the story. Honestly, I’ve played Japanese dating sims with boys who had more personality than the two princes in this story. And Meira is like a puppy, all overreaction and overemotional. I would have thought “Sir” might have taught her restraint or patience (or wisdom, please) in all those years but apparently not.
I think that those who have actually read quite a bit of high fantasy (including George R.R. Martin) will find Snow Like Ashes lacking in many aspects. But those who want a simplistic angsty teen romance love triangle will enjoy this book.
Reviewed from an ARC.