Initial reaction: I actually quite enjoyed this traditional fantasy romp. Ruby is the heroine I really wanted to root for that I couldn’t exactly get out of series such as Victoria Aveyard’s “Red Queen.” She’s a strong heroine who goes through a lot of betrayal and turmoil, is flawed but manages to be likable and easy to root for, and while there are elements that feel familiar, somewhat predictable, and a bit cheesy, it still managed to keep me on my toes throughout the read. I’m eager to pick up the second book.
I’m kind of surprised that “Frostblood” impressed me as much as it did. It has very familiar elements of a traditional YA fantasy with some loose building of a magic system and otherworld sharply divided into factions (i.e. Frostbloods vs Firebloods, magic being forbidden, merciless annihlation of villages and people based on perceived betrayals). Yet, I still felt compelled enough to follow Ruby’s story throughout. I liked her fighting spirit and her curiosity to hone her abilities. She comes from a background where she has a unique ability she must hide based on prejudices and fear that surrounds those of her ilk (Firebloods). The ball starts rolling with respect to the plot when Ruby’s identity’s discovered, she’s captured and suffers significant losses in the mix, then is rescued only to be forced into training and honing her abilities for a cause she has yet to discover. The result is a dangerous journey where her life is threatened at every turn and she has to rise to her inner and external demons.
This is definitely a great gateway fantasy novel for teens, and I imagine it would have a lot of appeal in that measure (also for those who just want fun, adventurous YA romps with a headstrong protagonist who pushes through hardship and has a hero’s journey throughout the course of the novel, some bits of romance between). Meaning…the value of it lies more if you haven’t read a lot of fantasy titles of this ilk or if you don’t mind it following a tried and true formula that other novels may either have or feature more distinct qualities.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed this because I really liked how cohesive the story was, and I admittedly liked Ruby and the supporting characters even as I longed for them to have a bit more flesh and time to have their respective nuances and wiggle room for growth. It’s tightly plotted and thematically seamless, so honestly the fault isn’t really with the writing or presentation here at all – it just could’ve had more expansion to give it more distinctive features. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what the series does with “Fireblood” – I just hope it comes into its own element and gives more distinctive punch. It seems from the ending that it has the potential to go into some interesting directions.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.