Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: October 13
Genre: young adult, fantasy
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.
Winter is free, but there’s a price to pay for the assistance from Cordell. While that is difficult enough, Meira and Mather must come to terms with their new roles in the kingdom: her a queen, he a soldier. Meira’s instincts are that of a soldier, and she’s furious when Theron unearths Primoria’s lost chasm of magic and tells his father, the king of Cordell. Meira can feel the magic surge through her, and she knows the safety of her kingdom is best kept with the chasm locked away. Under the guise of searching for the key to unlock the magic, Meira seeks assistance from nearby kingdoms to loosen Cordell’s grip on Winter and greed for magic.
Though the book suffered from second book syndrome, I did enjoy it. Not as much as Snow Like Ashes, and not in the same way. While Snow Like Ashes (I’ll refer to my review of that book several times throughout this review) felt like a breath of fresh air in YA fantasy, Ice Like Fire felt a bit more run-of-the-mill, with the complicated world, the magic, the war, the deception, the harried heroine, and the two vastly different love interests. It was not a bad book. In fact, it was a great read all on its own. But because Snow Like Ashes was so incredibly beautiful and already felt like a stand-alone, this book fell flat in comparison to its predecessor.
Meira was a different character. In my first review, I called Meira “strong-willed, determined to find her place, anxious to prove that she has a purpose for the restoration of Winter, funny, insightful, emotional,” that it was “so wonderful to read about an independent warrior-lady who’s not all about sacrifice,” and that “she felt real.” Take those little nuggets, and take them far away. Her world has turned upside down now that she knows she’s the royal child, the one with the crown, the queen of her kingdom. She’s not trained for politics but for battle. However, that does not explain why her personality shifted so much and in three short months. The shift between the books and the “I must sacrifice everything” mentality keeps her at a distance from the reader.
The dynamics of Mather and Theron shifted. Political moves were made in the first book to bring Meira and Theron together, but their relationship always felt more like lust than love anyway. I wasn’t too concerned. Mather and Meira are more right for one another, and inevitably, with their switch in station, they would have several rough patches in this book. But there was something about the way Meira treated the two of them that I disliked. It was as if she was using them for her own emotional gain. A weakness, yes, but it was almost done heartlessly, and she’s not a heartless character (old or new Meira). The love triangle, which wasn’t much of one in the first book (and therefore I was a happy reader), felt forced in this one.
I’m positively torn. I enjoyed the read. The world-building is still lush and the tone was a realistic shift from the first book. Establishing freedom and maintaining liberation are two different political moves, and this was successful in Ice Like Fire. When I think about it as the second book or compare it to its first book, I’m a little saddened. Nicked off quarter of a star for that reason only. I will definitely read the final installment, because I will not give up on Meira or Winter!
Thank you, Balzer + Bray, for providing this book for review!
This book fulfills 5 of 7 #ARCAugust reads.