In this sequel to Snow Like Ashes, Winter’s queen, Meira, struggles to forge a new life for her recently liberated people.
Meira feels smothered by her role as queen, and her narration makes her rocky adjustment to the immense responsibilities of ruling a kingdom achingly sympathetic. Noam, king of Cordell (who has loaned Winter aid), has ordered Meira to reopen Winter’s mines in hopes of finding the powerful magical chasm of legend. However, when it is found, Meira vows to keep it shut; she is distrustful of magic after learning about the Decay, a byproduct of magic used incorrectly. She embarks on a journey to meet the rulers of other kingdoms in Primoria as a cover for finding the keys necessary to open the chasm. Interspersed with Meira’s are chapters from Mather’s perspective, in which he defies Noam when left in Winter while Meira travels. Always a likable character, Meira’s insecurities in her new role make her appealing in a way that invests readers in her storyline as well as her character. Additionally, with such a high page count, it's especially noteworthy that the story is so well-paced.
Unanswered questions will have readers awaiting the third book and hoping that it brings Meira and her people peace at long last. (map) (Fantasy. 12 & up)