Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
"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."- summary from Amazon
If you enjoy fantasy, go get this book right now and don't bother with the rest of the review. It is that good! I absolutely loved Raasch's debut, from her world-building to her amazing characters to her compelling writing. I flew through this book when I read it the other month and always had such trouble putting it down. I did see a certain reveal coming early on, but that didn't necessarily dampen my reading experience.
Meira is a fantastic heroine- strong and flawed, and her rapport with Mather (as well as the other guy in the love triangle, Theron) is a joy to read. And yes, there is a love triangle but this is a triangle done right- both of the guys are extremely likable and awesome, and there's definitely a tough choice to be made here. There isn't a clear one good, one bad sort of thing, or another guy thrown in for the hell of it but you know it's not going to last thing. These two gentlemen are clear winners.
But the book is not all about romance (a lot of it is secondary). There's the complex relationship between Sir and Meira, which does get explained toward the end of the book (and is very emotional). There's also a lot of action and fight scenes going on in this novel as well- it is a fantasy book, after all- which Raasch handles very well and creates some edge-of-your-seat compelling scenes.
Overall, a terrific high fantasy debut that I'd recommend for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah J. Maas. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy.
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.