Cover Beauty Score: 4 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 3 out of 5
Plot Blurb: Meira is an orphan, saved by the few people from her kingdom of Winter that were fleeing the genocide brought on by the evil ruler of Spring. She has grown up as an exile, training to become a soldier to help win back her kingdom and reclaim the throne for the boy/man she loves - Mather. They live on the plains now with 6 other survivors while the rest of the Winter people are enslaved or worse. When Meira gets the chance to steal back a necklace - their kingdom's source of magic that could help them defeat the Spring kingdom, she sets into motion a series of events that changes her world forever. She finally gets to play her part in helping Winter, but it's certainly not everything she hoped it would be.
My Reaction: This book started off with an excellent little surge of action - I felt like I was reading a some sort of teenage Xena Assassin's Creed. And it was awesome! Meira started off as a kick ass character, wanting to prove herself and actually succeeding in doing so. It was only after the first bit of action happened that things started to get a little forced and stale. The Meira/Mather romance was hard to swallow - they didn't have much in the way of chemistry. I don't really think it's ever a good idea to start your story off with your heroine already in love. Needless to say - that turned me off a bit. And then there is this supposedly big betrayal and I just got a little bored with the way the characters handled the drama. Something about it was too fake - it didn't feel like I was introduced enough to the dynamics of it all to really care about Meira's reaction. Perhaps if Raash had spent a little more time on the familial relationships between the 8 survivors... if Meira had been a little more isolated... I can't put my finger on it.
All that being said - after this mess in the Cordell kingdom that shelters them for a while, that's where it kind of begins to kick off. Meira gets a new boy toy, the yummy Cordellan prince, Theron (I mean, I don't think anybody minded the shirtless training scene) and their interactions are adorable. He's quite the suitor, and I didn't mind one bit that Mather gets all huffy about it. Although I have to admit that I am sick to death of love triangles. But really - there's not much competition here from my humble pov. Theron is too noble, intelligent, and good (not to mention hot) for Meira to ignore (even if she thinks she's in love with her childhood sweetheart).
Meira follows the heroic journey pretty steadily from this point - really maturing and finding her inner strength when the shit really hits the fan. And I definitely guessed where this story was going - which isn't a bad thing. I was dying for what happened to happen, and I would have been disappointed if Raasch hadn't gone in that direction.
The writing was really fabulous, with just the right touch of imagery and simplicity to keep a younger audience captivated. The bits of action were great, and it was full of lush descriptions. Raasch is excellent at world building, introducing this whole land and its kingdoms with ease.
Despite my issues with the middle of the story, I'm excited to read the second book in the series - I think once Meira got a hold of her identity and worked through some issues, her character was more solid and believable in her sincerity. But let's face it. I also want to fantasize a little more about that golden haired god called Theron. Who wouldn't?