I very nearly gave up on this book, and I am glad that I didn't.
I enjoyed the first 15-20% of this book and I loved the last 20-25%, but the middle section was ROUGH. I would have loved to give this one 4 stars, and I nearly did based on how I was feeling once I was finished. However, I quickly recalled the trudging necessary to finish and determined anything more than 3 stars would be inappropriate.
This story is set in a world in which there are four regions that are "seasons" and four that are "rhythms". Several years before the start of the book, the season Spring and its allies attacked and defeated Winter, enslaving all of those captured. There were 25 people that escaped Winter. Among them were Mather the future King of Winter, and Meira our narrator. There is magic in the world and it can be wielded by the ruler of each region using a conduit (an object infused with magic), but Winter's conduit (a two-piece locket) had been taken during its fall. This story is about the remaining survivors' search for this conduit so that they might have a chance to reclaim their kingdom and free their people.
The world building in this book was not great. I'm so glad there was a map or I would have consistently been even more confused. I will say that Raasch did a great job of building each individual area once the characters were in them, I could vividly picture them. But the whole world overall? Those descriptions were a hot mess. You have a somewhat complicated geographic area and the author felt the need to constantly explain things about other areas that did not have any pertinent bearing on the story. If you provide your readers a map, which I always love, you don't need to go into painstaking detail about how the different areas are connected and their entrances, and so on. It was just too much information. It was boring. Raasch could have EASILY shaved at least 75 pages off of this book and worked harder to make sure what remained was clear and concise.
I really disliked the love triangle in this story. It seemed really unnecessary, and frankly the last thing these characters should be worried about. I really disliked this aspect of the story. And not just because I can't stand Mather.
Sir and Theron made this book for me. Along with the Winterian slaves that we finally get to see. I'll be honest, I did not give a poop about these people. We kept hearing about them and knew that they were enslaved, but it didn't really matter to me until we actually got to see some of them and the horrible conditions in which they had been forced to live for so long. That was when this really picked up for me and became a story that I actually wanted to know what happened next.
I will read the next book because I want to see what happens with these characters. I hope it is a significant improvement over this one.