Author: Elly Blake
Series: #1 in the Frostblood series
Genre: YA, fantasy
Synopsis: The frost king will burn. Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge. Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.
When I first heard of this book, I got super excited for its release. But after reading several mixed reviews once it came out, I was afraid it wouldn’t meet my expectations – hence why I neglected to read it for 6 months. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about and I absolutely loved it!
The one thing that made this book a lot of fun to read is its rapid pace. There are several good twists towards the end that I didn’t see coming, and the fight scenes are very intense (just read the first chapter and you’ll see what I mean). I was never bored while reading, and the climax left my head spinning. I had no idea how everything was going to get resolved in such a short amount of time! That always makes for a great (if stressful) ending, in my opinion.
Overall, Frostblood is a very simplistic fantasy, which may be why there are so many mixed reviews. There’s very little world-building, mostly because everything is so straightforward. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t read it for yourself, but basically there’s a ruling Frostblood monarchy that persecutes the Fireblood population, and everyone lives in a forest-y countryside with minimal technology and medieval clothing. Just your typical high-fantasy atmosphere, and everything else is pretty intuitive. While I didn’t mind the bland setting myself, I could see why some people would take issue with it. For this reason, however, I highly recommend Frostblood to people that are trying out YA fantasy for the first time, since you won’t be bombarded with lots of heavy terminology or confusing dialogue. That being said, I still loved the system of magic set in place, the author applied a few unique twists I didn’t expect, and it was easy to understand without being a complete bore.
“There was only the target, his darkly beating heart, and my fire. There was no fear, no anger, no shame, no regret. Just power, surging through me, filling me. It felt as if my breath sucked the very air from the heavens, and my rage burned the sun to ash.”
Ruby, the main character and narrator, is very headstrong and quite a lot of fun to read about. She’s afraid and constantly uncertain, but manages to hold her head high in the face of her enemies. Ruby makes rash decisions, often responds with pure emotion, and has to learn to love herself not only for her long-oppressed capabilities, but also for her own strength and vitality. I really enjoyed how a big theme throughout the book was finding family and your own life’s purpose, despite the world telling you who to be and who to love.
The romance, while questionable, is filled with chemistry and tension, the kind that always manages to draw me in. It was a bit too spontaneous for my liking, but I couldn’t deny the fact that I seriously just wanted Ruby and Arcus to be together. Some people will definitely criticize their relationship as being insta-love, but I appreciated it for the fact that it was cute and heartwarming without taking over the plot. Ruby stands very well on her own, and the plot moved forward without the romance playing a direct role in it.
“My voice broke, the veneer of anger cracking and letting my pain and longing through. I couldn’t seem to help myself. I sensed on some level that he was as lonely as I was, and maybe he didn’t have to be. Maybe I didn’t have to be.”
My only real criticisms are that there are a lot of typical YA tropes in this book, and the side characters could’ve used a little more development. But I have a feeling that several characters will be making bigger appearances in the sequel, which I’m very excited for! And as for the tropes, while they didn’t help to make Frostblood an outstanding read, they didn’t really detract from the story either. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to most fans of YA fantasy, particularly new ones.