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.
FTC Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR “SNOW LIKE ASHES”
Yikes! My review of “Ice Like Fire” is nearly a year overdue considering I obtained a copy via Edelweiss in September. SEPTEMBER! However, because I am a woman of my word — so sorry, HarperCollins! — I am finally reviewing “Ice Like Fire.”
Cold winter & cracked hearts
“Ice Like Fire” contains a brilliant exploration of the characters of Winter and their return to their kingdom. As expected, even though their kingdom has been reclaimed, their problems are far from solved. Older characters, like Mather’s parents, are eager to return to happiness, but the younger generation finds it harder to pretend they weren’t homeless and/or enslaved for their whole lives.
Naturally, the characters who struggle the most with adjusting to their new lives are Mather, now dubbed the “Once-King” by his peers, and Meira, the unprepared queen.
Meira doesn’t develop as much as Mather does in this book, but “Ice Like Fire” definitely hints at more development to come. Her inner turmoil comes from a conflict between doing her duty and following her heart. Meira has always known how to be a soldier, but she doesn’t know how to be a queen. Throw in the ideological differences between Theron and Meira, and she has more problems than any teenage girl needs. I can’t wait to see Meira find the balance become the brilliant warrior queen Winter needs.
Anyone who read my “Snow Like Ashes” review, should know that I am fervently Team Mather. Much to my delight, “Ice Like Fire” contains several chapters written in Mather’s POV. Mather’s chapters were hands-down my favorites. I felt my heart break for Mather. After “Snow Like Ashes,” Mather finds himself crownless, friendless and isolated from his fractured family. He’s pissed at everything and everyone: fate, his father, Theron, Meira, himself. He doesn’t know where he belongs. He makes tons of reckless mistakes in “Ice Like Fire,” but he also starts to figure out he’s more than just a dethroned king. I love the “Children of the Thaw” he befriends, and I’m so excited to see what role they’ll play in the next book.
“Horrible things have happened to us, are still happening to us, will happen every day for the rest of our lives, probably. What defines us is not our ability to never let them break us — what defines us is not letting them own us. We are the Thaw, and we will not be defeated by memories or evil men.” (Mather)
I’m not going to lie. I am also extremely thrilled about the progression of the romance in “Ice Like Fire.” With Cordell as Winter’s imperialistic controller, there is now a massive wall between Meira and Theron.
I’m not here to trash-talk Theron, but I truly feel that, if Meira chooses a guy (honestly, I’d be more than o.k. if she stayed single), she should choose Mather. He understands exactly what she’s gone through: homelessness, battles and lies. He is also a loyal Winterian and a fellow Child of the Thaw. He wants the best for their kingdom and would be an amazing ruler by her side.
I don’t know if Theron will change, but neither Meira nor Theron deserve a relationship wherein they must constantly lie to each other.
“That’s how relationships work — when one person is blind, the other must see for them. When one person struggles, the other must remain strong.” (Alysson)
So many kingdoms, so many characters
I am really sad to say “Ice Like Fire” suffers from second-book syndrome. After “Snow Like Ashes,” I was so eager for the sequel. It was fast-paced, action-packed and full of suspense. This book, however, has almost no fight scenes and progresses slowly. I tried rereading it before finishing this review, but I ended up giving up and skimming the rest for a refresher.
The majority of “Ice Like Fire” is a journey through the kingdoms to negotiate peace and find magical keys. Though it has similarities to the archetypal quest, it just doesn’t feel like one. The journey is slow, bogged down by dozens of side characters and details about each kingdom. It didn’t help that I didn’t like the majority of the new characters. Although, Ceridwen is pretty badass.
The plot also felt repetitive. Go to new kingdom. Meet irritating royals. Search for key. Feel bitter about Theron. Find key. Repeat twice more.
“Ice Like Fire” has all of the symptoms of second-book syndrome, but the series is still promising. Meira and Mather’s inner conflicts are the most interesting part of the story, and there are hints of something amazing to come. I can’t wait to see them reach their full potential in the conclusion of this series.