I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
While Winter has been freed from Angra’s slavery, Meira must find the balance between queen and soldier, fight to keep her kingdom from the hands of Cordell, and in the mean time find the keys hidden in other kingdoms that will open the door to the magical chasm and hopefully make an alliance or two with rivals.
I loved Raasch’s worldbuilding in Snow Like Ashes, and I’m pleased to say that it was topped even in Ice Like Fire. Meira takes a tour of the kingdoms under the guise of making alliances but she’s secretly looking for magical keys, and in visiting these other kingdoms we get a first hand account of the culture, traditions, values and lifestyles of the other kingdoms. Not only are each culture interesting and well developed but they’re all diverse as well, with no two being the same, although there are certain similarities that lend the kingdoms into natural alliances with each other. I was totally impressed at this way of worldbuilding because never once did I feel like there was any kind of info-dumping. I know the ‘point’ of the story was to deliver on the hurdles Meira had to overcome, but the tour just made the most fantastic vehicle for further world development.
CHARACTERS + RELATIONSHIPS
Meira had strained relationships with everyone in this novel and I was saddened to see that she couldn’t trust anyone, not even shoes she and I had grown to love in the previous novel. Meira basically relied on herself, and even her new alliances were tender and uncertain. I really didn’t feel much romance between her and Theron or her and Mather, but I did delight in seeing the new tumultuous friendship with the Summer princess, Ceridwen.
WHAT WORKED/DIDN’T WORK
Because of the lack of trusted relationships, I never really grew to trust anyone in this novel, even those whom it turned out could have been trusted. I found that Meira was to standoffish, even with a certain character whose inevitable betrayal I saw coming (but not with the right motivation), to really be shocked when everything turned to shit. I found the idea of the Decay being responsible for much of the motivation early in the books hard to accept as there was no foreshadowing or warning that this was the motivation used by certain characters.
A very worthy sequel, Ice Like Fire doesn’t suffer from any kind of second novel syndrome and it was a delight to follow the continued issues of rebuilding Winter and seeing Meira find her place in the world.