Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1)
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or monarch. Now the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the chance to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior- and desperately in love with her best friend and future king, Mather- she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it, only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics- and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
Excerpt taken from the back cover.
Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking
Drunks stumble from tavern to tavern.
Two young kids steal a bottle of wine and get tipsy.
Alcohol is served at a ball.
Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty
Brothels are briefly mentioned.
A young woman implies she has work at the brothel to gain passage through a gate. She is not a prostitute.
A young man grabs a young woman in an intimate embrace, their faces closes enough to kiss. He kisses her jaw as he releases.
Men are sparring and practicing with their weapons shirtless. A young woman admires their chests and muscles as they work.
A young woman tries to distract herself as she knows the man behind a door is likely undressed.
Attempted rape is implied but it could possibly be taken as aggressive fighting (more in the Violence section).
A young woman and young man kiss. He grabs the back of her neck and “his mouth collapsing over my own. A moan eases out of my throat….ecstasy at the burst of comfort and need that swirls off his lips…our lips and tongues and his fingers pulling my hair, desperation exploding out of us…”
Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood
Sword and chakram training. Swords are the weapon of choice for soldiers. There are also knives, javelin, daggers, bows, crossbows and more.
Soldiers return from a mission with bloody clothes, injuries and gashes.
Two people break into an office through the balcony and rifle through belongings.
Images of soldiers with bones protruding through their chests run through someone’s mind.
A young woman thinks, “Killing him is going to feel so good.”
Two people hear the crack of someone’s face meet another man’s fist and a small ruckus along with yelling. People are shot at with knives and a chakram are used as weapons. The chakram is thrown and slices a man’s thigh.
A man and wife are taken captive and thrown into a camp. There is grueling work and conditions. The wife is murdered and the husband dies soon after from injuries.
A young woman vows to kill a man. He slaps her.
A queen was murdered.
A city was taken, there were explosions, deaths of almost the entire population, screaming and smoke. Only 25 escaped, those who didn’t die were taken prisoner and put into camps.
A chakram is thrown at a man’s neck. His head jerks back, his knees collapse and his mouth falls open, dead. A man with two curved knives leaps and slices through a soldier’s neck and torso. He rips the knives from that body and slices another’s throat. The two men gurgle as blood courses out. He slams his knives into another soldier’s chest and his cloudy eyes stare as he moans then drops to the ground dead.
A young woman grabs a man’s wrist and slams him into a hedge. Her hand wraps around his throat.
A young woman wants to take her chakram and slice a man’s skull.
A man grabs a young woman’s wrist in a threat. She digs her nails into him and jerks free.
A girl dreams of her parents being slaughtered in the street and their baby (her) tumbling out of their arms. They were in a burning building.
Two young men sword fight with practice swords. They attack each other fiercely and blood is on both of them.
A man swings his arm and fists his hand at a young woman, and a young man throws him against the wall before he can hit her.
A man punches a young man in the cheek.
Experiencing a dream of the past, a young woman sees a group of people attack another group. Fists split bones, bodies fly.
A young woman is taken as a prisoner. Shse is badly injured and her captor jab her injuries to cause more pain. She is taken to their city and sees other prisoners who are badly treated with lack of food and hard labor. One is whipped while she passes by. At one point, a man uses magic to heal her injuries and the pain it causes is excruciating, she screams and almost passes out. He then uses that same magic to break her bones again, and again. He slams his staff against her cheek and makes her head smack the floor. When she lashes out, she is hit again and falls to the floor.
In another vision of the past, a man threatens a queen’s throat with a knife.
Prisoner camps are in a city. There are hundreds of small cells and she is placed in one. They are taken to work and are whipped to keep them moving. While carrying large boulders, a prisoner cuts his foot which causes him to pause briefly. A soldier punishes him and kicks him off a cliff.
A young woman debates on shoving soldiers off a cliff to escape captivity. Instead she chips away at a pole holding up a bridge and sends many soldiers to their deaths.
A young boy is whipped repeatedly with a belt for yelling at the soldiers. He is bleeding profusely and his rib bones are visible.
Torture and death are used as threats multiple times.
A young man is brought to a king with cuts, gashes and clothes stained with blood. It is assumed he has been tortured. The king slams his staff into his head and sends him sprawling. He uses his staff and magic to break his ribs, then heal them. A young woman is thrown in a small cage that is barely big enough for her. The young man is chained to a wall and soldiers punch him in the stomach making his body slam against the wall with a cracking sound. When the soldier returns, he grabs her out of her cage and throws her across the room onto his bed. He grabs her thighs which lays her down flat. The young man in the chains is fighting and screaming against his chains causing blood to fall to the floor. The soldier throws her onto her back and he gets on top of her, pinning her arms above her head. An attempt at rape is implied but it could possibly be taken as him being aggressive with her. She is able to work out an arm and grab a medal from his jacket and jabs it in his eye. Blood is running down the soldier’s face while he screams in pain and fury. The soldier grabs a dagger, she gets to the desk and grabs a chakram but the soldier has the dagger to the young man’s neck. She throws something at him which releases the young man so she can throw the chakram. It slices his neck, they wrestle a bit, then she slides it into his skull. Blood trails off the metal. Her clothes are covered in blood also. She does not regret killing him.
Prisoners are pushing against a gate that keeps them in. Soldiers are throwing blades and fists at them to hold them off. A young woman throws her chakram at the soldiers and kills him by severing his spine. Dark magic forces them to start killing the prisoners with blades, stabbing their chests and necks. The prisoners are able to fight back and the young woman is killing many soldiers with her chakram, sword and dagger. The prisoners are able to overtake the soldiers, steal their weapons and kill them. At one point the young woman impales a soldier, then uses his body as a shield. More soldiers are involved from other kingdoms, some fight with hair-thin blades and hurling balls that spew toxic smoke. There a weapons similar to chakrams also. A king fights the young woman. He has his staff, a sword and magic. During a fight, he slices her shoulder and pins her on the ground. A man throws two knives at the king and fighting continues. The young woman slides a sword in a soldier’s gut, cannons are fired, a man is pinned to the ground by a sword in his shoulder.
Potentially Intense Themes
A soldier morphs into a very large man. Evil magic is used to do this. A young woman is grabbed and he hangs her from her wrists. Then she is taken hostage.
The evil magic is used to for transformations, to induce visions in people to drive them mad, to snap traitors’ bones and tear out organs while the people are still alive.
A group of people have to flee with a baby to get it to safety.
People getting shocks of magic from a power source are referred to as “overcooked meat.”
The reader experiences a wartime battle first hand. There are cries, screaming, strategy, weapons, running straight towards the other army, swords slicing throats, knives into chests, arrows into weak points of armor like shoulders, cannons, blood, death. Cannonballs rips through the first lines of infantry. Men are launched into the air by the cannonballs. There is a stench of blood and sweat along with many screams and explosions. A young girl falls on a wounded soldier and he lifts a bloody hand to her. He is bleeding profusely, his blood pulses out while bones are visible. She is there as he dies. His body succumbs to death and his eyes stare absent and empty.