A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
This book was a beautiful, simple read. I’ve had it sitting on my bookshelf for ages — the cover was what initially intrigued me, but reading the synopsis again made me finally pick it up after all this time!
The best part of this book is the world-building. There is no doubt in my mind that this is some of the best world-building that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Sara Raasch has done a tremendous job at creating a world that the reader can visualise so vividly in their own mind. The continent is divided into eight different kingdoms — four seasonal kingdoms, and four rhythm kingdoms — and each kingdom possesses their own culture and history. I love the Winterians especially (seeing as the Winterians are the primary civilisation we get to see), but I would love to know more about the Kingdom of Autumn.
Also, the characters are very well-written. The cast of characters is undeniably large, but there are some interesting characters. This book has a huge cast. The first few chapters of this novel introduced us to the final eight Winterians who haven’t be killed or forced into slavery. This was actually quite confusing, initially. I think that the author could have done a much better job at distinguishing between the remaining Winterians to make them appear more three-dimensional, rather than simple side characters. However, that being said, there are certain characters that really stood out for me:
- Meira is a great main character. I’m not sure what the general consensus is concerning Meira, but personally I thought that she was great. I loved seeing the world from her point of view, and she was such a tragic character due to the fact that she couldn’t remember her parents and she didn’t have any memories of her own concerning the Kingdom of Winter. This left her with fragments of other people’s memories. I also quite liked the fact that she was such a strong character, who understood that she still had a lot to learn.
- I actually love the character, Sir, and I want to know more about him. Oh, Sir. Sir may possibly be one of my favourite characters. We don’t know a lot about him, but what we do know really does intrigue me. I like how he protects everyone and has become their leader, how awesome he is at combat, and how much he cares about Meira and Mather whilst also keeping them at a distance. But I still want to know more about his past.
- I may be in love with Prince Theorn. From the moment that we get to meet Theorn I knew that I was a little bit in love. Not only does he write incredible poetry, loves books and art and music, but he is also a capable fighter and personalises himself with his subjects. Personally, I believe that Theorn could be a fantastic king, and I look forward to seeing him develop throughout the rest of the series. (I also ship him very strongly with Meira! Anyone else with me on that one?!)
- And I don’t really like Mather. I think this may have something to do with the fact that he isn’t as developed as the other main characters. He’s been Meira’s crush since childhood, he has concerns about becoming king, and struggles to convey his feelings to Meira. But he honestly felt a little flat and underdeveloped to me.
The beginning pulled me in, and the ending was fantastic — however, there was a bit of a lull in the middle. Without giving away any spoilers, I thought that the beginning did a wonderful job at initially capturing my attention and pulling me into a great story; the ending did an equally awesome job at tying up all the loose ends, but also making it apparent that there was so much more to come. Yet, the middle was a bit of a lull. I kind of got a little bored halfway through because I wanted something more to happen. There were interesting parts, but compared to the beginning and end, the middle could have been tightened a little.
Though, there is a twist that makes it all worth it. I will admit that after a bit of a boring middle, the twist takes the book in an unexpected turn and made me love this story all over again.
In some cases it reminded me of other young adult fantasy books. There were some aspects of this novel that kind of reminded me of other young adult books: the main female character that discovers that she has a bigger destiny than she thought, she has to learn how to become a proper ‘queen’, and it possesses a potential love triangle. It does have its own spin, but they were just elements of other books that I have seen a lot of this year.
At the end of the day, this book is a perfect escapist book. I really, really liked this book despite its faults. It took me to a world that was not only captivating, but one that I want to learn everything about. I want to continue this adventure alongside these characters, so I cannot wait to read the next book and find out what happens.