Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.
All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part 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.
My sincerest thanks to Hachette New Zealand, for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Reading this book confirmed something for me: I have a big, big weakness for young-adult fantasy romances. There is something about them that I love – powerful heroines armed with magic, the sweeping and predictable (thus comforting) romances, and imaginative lands and kingdoms. My weakness is so weak that, even if the story is terribly unoriginal, more often than not I will love them.
Frostblood has been likened to Red Queen – a very apt and accurate comparison – which was why I was curious. As a disclaimer: although I recognize that, objectively, Red Queen is far from perfect and is fraught with flaws, I enjoyed it immensely. My thoughts about Frostblood are, in that sense, very similar: I acknowledge its problems and will be the first to admit that it is flawed, but Frostblood was one hell of a fun book to read.
The world within Frostblood is very familiar to what we commonly find in young adult fantasy: a world torn apart by its power struggle; a perpetual war waged by a tyrant of a ruler; and a protagonist who is destined or primed to rise above it all and save the day. In Frostblood, the story’s conflict predominantly centers on the war between Frostbloods and Firebloods – ice magic users and fire magic users respectively. Rather than focus on the machinations of the war, Frostblood turns its attention to the effects of the war on the commoners and villagers caught in between and the prejudice and oppression that war brews.
Caught in the middle of the war and conflict is Ruby, the protagonist and a Fireblood, who, by chance, crosses paths with Frostblood rebels who want to put an end to their tyrant of a king. Ruby’s characterization is nothing unique to the genre, but it was nonetheless engaging, multifaceted, and wonderful to read. The challenges that Ruby faces are more than just the mastery of her fire power; it also involved overcoming prejudice, meaningfully questioning what she lives for – and is revenge enough? – and holding the small pieces of herself together when thrown into the lion’s den.
There was more to my life than hate. But another part said that I would never have peace.
The romance in Frostblood was predictable and nothing new — and yet, I enjoyed the slowburn romance, how two people on opposite sides of the war slowly shed their doubts and fears of each other, and began to accept each other. The banter and dialogue between the two characters was utterly charming and… swoony. And, how could I forget? The dark, brooding male trope just worked in Frostblood.
What underlies the story comes two-fold. First, it is Ruby’s personal journey of becoming who she is meant to be. Second, and far more interesting, is a surprisingly heartfelt exploration of revenge. The ongoing question and theme of revenge is particularly fascinating when adjacent to Ruby’s growth, as the characters continually ask themselves the purpose, the ripple effects, and the choices we make and the effect it has on others. Revenge is thoughtfully questioned, pulled apart, examined, and put back together, making the story more compelling.
Frostblood is not perfect – far, far from it. Though it has its share of flaws, Frostblood was an undeniably entertaining and engaging read. Guilty pleasure, anyone?
Book Name: Frostblood
Series: Frostblood #1
Author: Elly Blake
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Happy book birthday to Elly Blake and Frostblood! I can’t wait to see where the author will take the series in its sequel, Fireblood.
- Will you be reading Frostblood? What interests you about the book?
- What are your guilty pleasures? What are some tropes that you just can’t resist?
- Elemental magic – yay or nay?