Editor’s Choice

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Here readers will find a list of titles that the editor has chosen to highlight. Each month a new title is added to this list
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This Month’s Editor’s Choice

Snow like Ashes

Snow like Ashes

Sara Raasch
Fiction
For ages 13 and up
HarperCollins, 2014   ISBN: 978-0062286925

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was invaded. Soldiers from the Kingdom of Spring infiltrated the country and then attacked. Thousands of people were killed, thousands were captured and enslaved.  The queen of Winter was killed and her magic Royal Conduit, a locket, was taken by King Angra of Spring. Only twenty-five Winterians were able to escape, and one of them was young Prince Mather. Ever since then this little handful of people has been trying to find the two halves Winter’s Royal Conduit. which they desperately need to retrieve if they are ever going to be able to take back their lands.

   Of the original twenty-five refugees, only eight are now left, and one of these people is Meira. Sixteen years ago general William of Winter rescued Meira during the attack on and she has been with the small band of refugees ever since, an orphan girl who desperately wants to do something to help her people. Unfortunately, William does not seem to have much confidence in Meira abilities. Though she is skilled in long distance fighting, when it comes to hand-to-hand combat, she still does not manage to defeat Prince Mather when they practice.

   For several years the refugees have been doing their best to survive, living on the Rania Plains and conducting missions into the Season Kingdoms to try to find the pieces of the locket. King Angra of Spring, a cruel despot who uses magic to keep his people loyal, keeps moving the pieces around so that the Winterians cannot find them, and they in turn keep trying to retrieve what is rightfully theirs.

   Meira has never been on a real mission, but now, at last, she is sent to Lynia, a seaside port in Spring, to try once again to get one of the locket pieces. She goes with Finn and they manage to get into the city and to the keep where the locket is being kept. By some miracle she manages to get the locket half back, and she and Finn return to the camp almost unscathed. After years of looking for the two pieces of the locket, they are making progress at long last, and Meira finally feels that she has done something of value for Winter. More than anything she wants to matter for who she is and for what she can do.

   Soon after, Angra’s soldiers find the refugee camp and Meira, Mather, William and the others have no choice but to flee, taking refuge in the Rhythm Kingdom of Cordel. Summer, Autumn, and the Rhythm Kingdoms have all done nothing so far to help Winter, but William hopes, now that they have half of the magic Royal Conduit of Winter, that King Noam of Cordel will be willing to help them, and he is. For a price.

 The price that the Winterians have to pay is one that shocks and appalls Meira. When she gets to Noam’s palace she finds out that she has been paired with Prince Theron and that there is nothing that she can do about it. No one saw fit to tell her about the arrangement, and she feels betrayed. She is nothing more than a marriage pawn, a means to connect Corbel and Winter. Winter will get help from Corbel, and in return, once Winter is free again, Corbel will get access to the Klaryn Mountains, under which a huge reserve of magic lies.

   As days pass, Meira comes to realize that her situation is not as hopeless as she thought. It is true that the role of consort to the Prince of Cordel was never what she had in mind, but if she can help Winter as a princess then that is what she has to do. She will do her part to free Winter, and she will do her best to make sure that King Noam keeps his side of the bargain. She is not going to stand by while he does nothing. As she comes to terms with what she thinks lies ahead she never imagines that her role is going to change once again in the not too distant future.

  In this fascinating book we encounter a young woman who is strong willed and impetuous, but who learns, as the story unfolds, that roles can change, and that she can change if she has to. Readers will watch as Meira and her friends fight to reclaim their country, even though they are without allies, and even though their enemy is powerful and extremely dangerous.

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