My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity 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, Winter's future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter's magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
I wasn't blown away by this story. It had a great setup, don't get me wrong; a story that takes place after the big battle, and the protagonists have lost. The effort it takes just to even maintain enough hope to move forward, and then feature a character who doesn't even have the memories of what was lost to motivate her. What is she willing to do for a place she never even knew? I was totally on board.
And there were parts that didn't disappoint. The first few fight scenes, and then the rest of the chakram fighting later on was pretty cool. And I loved most of all the struggle that Meira felt when the subject of marriage came up. We've never really had a story told from the bride-to-be, focusing on how much agency she doesn't have, and what she's meant to do in that situation. I thought that was the strongest part of the story, emotionally.
But I didn't really like Sara's writing style. There was a lot of overly intricate descriptions of things, and it felt like Meira was reflecting on the grand scheme every time she looked at something new. I also didn't think the worldbuilding was that up to snuff. It wasn't that I hated it, but that I didn't really feel strongly one way or the other.
And then with the ending, I thought the bow it got wrapped up in was a bit too shiny. Sure, there's drama to come, things unresolved, but the main goal, some of these characters' entire purposes, was resolved in just 400 pages. I dunno, the whole thing just seemed a bit meh to me.