3 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback - YA Fantasy - Goodreads Summary:
"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."
Before picking up this book, I perused a few other reviews just to see if it was worth reading. Despite what some people out there might say, this is a good read! Frostblood is a quick, entertaining, and really sets you up nicely for the sequel (Fireblood). The first fifty pages were really grabbing, and the back third of the book was similar. Blake really knows how to close! It held my interest and had me barreling toward the final chapter.
Once Ruby met the Frost King, the pace took off and we were in a world if ice thrones, magical mythology, and dark shadow monsters. Blake gave us just enough history behind the Frostblood/Fireblood hatred, and she sprinkled bread crumbs about the dark power actually controlling the long line of Frost Kings. Definitely kept me intrigued! It was reminiscent of Game of Thrones where the Mad King is ruled by his madness, and in turn, drives his family house to ruin. In Frostblood, all seems well and good for the Frostblood people, and the king seems in control...but is he really?
Overall there, wasn't much originality in the storyline. We've seen a people divided, gladiator-style fighting arenas, secret gifts, and Chosen One's. The main drawback of this book was its mushy middle. There is little to no advancement in the story once Ruby begins her training in the abbey, and she's swept off by the king's soldiers before she can even master her gift. Yes, we're introduced to the on again-off-again love interest, Arcus, but little else happens, and the romance comes out of nowhere for me. I only suspected they'd develop feelings for each other because the blurb told me so. I wanted Blake to show us the transition.
I also had a hard time trekking through act II because I felt disconnected from Ruby's voice. I still don't feel like I know who she is, only what she wants to do. Even then, she changes her mind on a whim or is following orders someone else gave her (i.e. Kill the king. Not her idea. Get revenge for the tragic death in the first scene. She decides against that too when she finally gets her chance). Her motivations felt shallow, which made parts of the book feel like a to-do list of action and not a richly developed character driving herself through the plot. Plot drove character.
But don't let this deter you! This may not be one I connected with as much, but it's an entertaining read. Take it to the beach because the frost imagery is amazing and is bound to cool you off ;) I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys an accessible YA fantasy series. Great work for debut novelist, Elly Blake!