Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: October 14
Genre: young adult, fantasy
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.
Meira is one of the last remaining Winterian refugees and is desperate to prove to the general, Sir, that she’s worthy of warrior status. For sixteen years, the Kingdom of Winter has been without a free home, without a monarch, and without magic. Meira seizes the opportunity to reclaim the Winter conduit from Spring, the destructive Season kingdom that’s slowly but surely taking over the Rhythm kingdoms as well. But her mission doesn’t go smoothly, and Meira is thrust into battles and politics and a destiny she never thought imaginable.
Wow oh wow. For a while I was certain I was finally reading a YA fantasy that could be a stand-alone — it was so epic, and so much was happening all at once — the politics, the passion, the humor and sadness and self-discovery, the world-building, and the major reveal at the end. And though we discover it’s not a stand-alone, that there may be a companion book or trilogy in the future, it’s still worth every second of time, every word.
Meira was a joy, a breath of fresh air. She’s strong-willed, determined to find her place, anxious to prove to the general/adoptive father Sir that she has a purpose for the restoration of Winter, funny, insightful, and emotional. She has moments of weakness, moments of strength, moments of clarity and reasoning and compassion. She’s by no means perfect, but it was so wonderful to read about an independent warrior-lady who’s not all about sacrifice — that she has moments of longing for love like every teenage girl, that she has moments of wishing she could be more than who she is what she believes she’s destined to become. She felt real. And that’s all any reader can ask for in a fantasy novel with high stakes: a character as human as the reader.
The kingdoms are fascinating too. There are eight total, divided into two categories: Seasons and Rhythms. The Seasons are one season throughout the entire year, and the Rhythms experiences all four seasons. This book primarily focuses on two Seasons and one Rhythm, and it’s interesting to see the discrimination and justification for those prejudices pan out. But my biggest moment of awe was the concept behind each Season, specifically the Kingdom of Winter and the Kingdom of Spring. Typically, we view winter as a cold, harsh, dead season, the end of life and the darkest time; spring is full of color and fresh, new beginnings, of life and vitality and awakenings. Oh, so vastly different in this book. Winter may be cold and harsh, but it’s full of life, clean and clear and brilliant and pure. Spring, on the other hand, is dark, controlling, manipulating, filled with death and caution and fear. In a way, I’m glad there will be more to read from Raasch — I’m interested to see the other Rhythms, to meet the other Seasons and watch those stereotypes shatter.
This is a world you’ll never want to leave.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Balzer + Bray for review!