Meira returns in this final installment in the Snow Like Ashes trilogy.
Chapters alternating Meira’s, Mather’s, and Ceridwen’s perspectives pick up moments after the end of Ice Like Fire (2015). Meira, Winter’s queen, left Mather, her soldier and friend, and his Thaw warriors imprisoned in Ventralli to follow an unknown man, Rares. In a refreshing divergence from fantasy norms, Rares teaches Meira that her ability to understand and utilize her powers is tied to her achieving emotional balance, making the speed of her mastery both believable and satisfying. The truths Meira unravels on her own, as well as those shared by Rares, are conveyed in beautifully poetic prose. Meanwhile, King Angra persists in using his magic to conquer and spread the damaging Decay. Meira accepts that she loves Mather and that she must die in order to destroy magic—and the Decay with it—to ensure that her world is truly safe. Raasch could easily slip into the maudlin with the prospect of Meira’s martyrdom, but she resists, putting characters and readers alike through the emotional wringer as they confront love and loss with honor and dedication to principle.
The dangers are real and many die—which is why the twist ending works: happiness is sobered by sacrifice in a fulfilling conclusion. (Fantasy. 14 & up)