Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 479 pages
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
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 sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—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 Januari—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 weaves 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.
Protagonists: Unlike the first book in this series, this installment focuses on more than just Meira as a narrator. In addition to her abundance of chapters we also get chapters from Mather's POV sprinkled in ever few chapters or so. In the previous book the roles Meira and Mather had set for their lives were switched and this book begins with them not quite knowing how to handle it. Meira just wants to go back to the girl she was before, without magic, without the heavy responsibility of a crown and kingdom. Mather just wants to feel important again, to stand for something more than just a lord. In this book these characters need to discover who they are now that their worlds have been rocked so violently.
Romance: This love triangle, what can I say about it. Well, first off I should say that while there is romance in this book it's more of a medium sized sub-plot. It's there, but doesn't overshadow the main plot of this world. Anyway, in the previous book this love triangle felt very even. By the end of the book I had no idea who I was truly rooting for, both characters had such great hearts, wanting only what was best for Primoria, and by extension their people. In this book however it becomes clear who I'm rooting for now. One of the love interests slowly descends in favor-ability, though as we got towards the end he hadn't yet reached the point of no return, and I could still see him having redemption and that I could be okay with Meira ending up with him. However, not only did he cross the point of no return by the end of the book, but sped past it.
World-Building: There is so much expanded upon in this book. Meira, being the new queen of Winter, has many enemies, some even claiming to be peaceful allies. Noem among them, The season/rhythm prejudice comes to a head in this book and I was shocked to see just how abundant it is in season kingdoms as well. Finally the biggest topic is magic. The lost chasm of magic is found, but before anyone can open it, it needs to be unlocked. That's what sets Meira and Theron off on their journey to new and exciting kingdoms, Yakim and Ventralli probably being among my favorites, at least aesthetically. This world begins to expand and by the end of the book there are only two kingdoms we have yet to see, I think, did we see Autumn in Snow Like Ashes? Anyway, there are still more secrets yet to discover and the battle isn't over yet, I can't wait to see how this world expands even more!
Predictability: I have to say that Sara Raasch know how to stab you in the gut with a good twist, and then will even twist the knife a bit at parts for maximum effect. So throughout most of the book I sort of knew what was going to happen next, nothing specific, but I could see the classic YA formula working its way through the plot, however there are a great many things toward the end of this book that I couldn't have seen coming in a million years. Some of these twists, usually the most gut-wrenching, had no foreshadowing whatsoever, but would come at the most inopportune times and practically destroy me.
Ending: So the ending of this book is epic, heart-breaking, intense, and phenomenally done. I'm honestly at a lost for words on how to describe the ending as more than that but I'll try. The final climax of this book is wrought with twists, I think I know what's happening and then out of no where something even worse happens. It's chaos and drama at it's finest. The very end of the book ends in a cliffhanger that I don't know if I'll be able to get over for a while. I honestly should have waited a bit longer to read this book because I need to know what happens next, there are still questions I need the answers to and the cliffhanger only added more.
I said when I reviewed the first book in this series that it felt so much like a cliched fantasy story, about a young monarch trying to restore their kingdom an take it back from an evil usurper, but that there was something special about it that made it so much better than that. Well, this book just goes to prove my point. The magic and political systems in this series are fantastic and the characters are so deep and multi-layered. This book destroyed me in the best possible way and I honestly can't wait to see how this trilogy will come to a conclusion!