Yes, it’s Friday. But I just finished Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch, so it seems appropriate that a book review be done instead of my usual post.
Warning: Mild spoilers ahead. (Borderline mega spoilers if you haven’t read Snow Like Ashes)
Book Title: Raasch makes a pretty bold comparison. Ice is like fire? But it works. It totally works, once you read the book and think about it.
Cover: I think this one’s even better than Snow Like Ashes. Dark, foreboding, explosion in the background. Boom.
“It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared – thanks largely to the help of Cordell.
“Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron is hopeful and excited – with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira knows that the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe – even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?
“Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Jannuari – leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?
“As the web of power and deception is woven tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom – and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter but for the world.”
After its predecessor, Snow Like Ashes, I was a hopeful.
So, onto the story:
The book was not terrible. Let me just start with that. But there are some issues that I had with it that I’d like to get out of the way. I’ll start with the character deaths (simply because they’re still fresh on my heart). There are four, to be precise. One to hit Mather, one to hit Ceridwen (a new player in the series), one to hit Theron, and one to hit Meira. And, out of all of those deaths, I think only one of them really worked – Ceridwen’s. Theron’s did too, but I still have an issue with that death, for another reason. The death that is supposed to really hit Mather bothered me the most, because I feel that the character’s death was not only necessary, but disappointing. The death was meant to spur Mather into action, and to show Cordell’s true colors. But Mather was already primed for action, and we already knew the Cordellans were jerks, right from the start. Meira’s loss, on the other hand, wasn’t really disappointing, but frustrating. Maybe it’ll make more sense in the next book, but placed here, it just fell flat.
On a bit of a higher note, where Snow Like Ashes‘s biggest problem was it’s predictability, that most definitely was not the case in Ice Like Fire. I will admit, though I kind of had a good guess on how the story was going to end, Raasch jerked me in another direction, distracting me with half-truths to lead me away from my assumption, until I actually was pretty sure my assumption had been wrong. And when she did reveal, she showed that I’d only been half-right, and that there were other things I hadn’t guessed would happen. It was definitely surprising. And it made Theron’s loss make sense. At least, why this character had to die. Although the whole reveal with Theron’s character still seemed a bit off. A bit rushed, I guess.
Moving on… the Big Conflict for Ice Like Fire was finding the keys to open Primoria’s magical chasm (which is not really a spoiler, as they find this out in the first few chapters, I believe, if not the first itself). The first few chapters, she’s really worried that Angra’s not dead. Then she has to worry about the keys, and suddenly it’s like Angra (MEGA-AWFUL baddie from Book 1) suddenly doesn’t matter anymore. That was also a bit frustrating. Then, Meira’s search gives her the chance to see different cultures, to reinforce her idea that the magic chasm should not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES be opened. But this was what most of Ice Like Fire was about, and some of her deductions for finding the keys seemed far-fetched, and it seemed even more far-fetched when she ended up being right about it. Wash, rinse, repeat.
During this part of the story, I was far more interested in Mather, who is rebelling against Cordellan control. (Which was another issue for me: Sir. The character who was so strong and fierce in Snow Like Ashes, ends up being almost uncharacteristically meek against Cordellan control. You’d think he’d think along the same lines as Mather, after losing so many people to free Winter from Spring in the last book…)
Anyway, Meira’s first stop is Summer. Where she meets the MEGA-AWFUL Summerian king, Simon. Who’s really only awful because he acts like a child. I didn’t really have a problem with him, though, because it offered such an interesting contrast to his sister, Ceridwen, who’s a pretty fierce bundle of fireball resistance. I liked her character. She offered the ferocity that Meira is no longer really displaying, because Meira’s trying so desperately hard to act Queenly. To be different from the orphan soldier girl she thought she was.
So I liked Ceridwen. I liked that we got more of Mather. I thought that Meira’s struggle to be Queenly was interesting, etc. And I loved the end, for the most part, because boy oh boy did it kick into high gear. As I said, some of the character deaths were a little disappointing, and admittedly, the whole reveal was a touch (JUST a touch) disappointing as well, but it was suddenly ACTION ACTION ACTION, and we get to see Meira as she is now, and as she’d been before, all meshed up into one.
Taking all of this into consideration, I’m going to go ahead and give the book 3.5 stars. Just because I love this idea that Raasch has, and I love her characters, and I love her world. I even love the plot, mostly. But some of the tidbits in the book (including, but not limited to, what I’ve included here) bothered me enough to knock it down a half-star less than Snow Like Ashes.
All that said, I’m still looking forward to how this plays out in Frost Like Night (which I believe is the name of book 3).