Publication: January 10th 2017, Little Brown Pages: 376 Purchase: Amazon | Waterstones | Book Depository 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.
You don’t know the effect your words have on me, Lady Firebrand. It took years to build up this ice. You will melt it and then I will be broken.
I feel like I say this more often than not nowadays, but: recently, I have been in a reading rut.
Back in the day (before I was in my late twenties, and therefore essentially a fossil) I could easily finish an entire book in a matter of hours. Now? I’m lucky if I can finish a book in a week. And oh boy, does this frustrate the life out of me — especially when I am crumbling under the weight of an ever-growing to be read list. (Ever-growing because I have this problem where my bank card keeps falling into card machines and paying for new books. An unfortunate problem to have. Also a story for another day.)
Why are you telling us this, Shaunna? you may ask. What in the world is the point of this introductory ramble?
Well, for one, it’s been a long time since I’ve spent any time writing an entire book review. I am rusty. It’s definitely going to take a while for me to get into The Zone again.
For… two? For… second? Whatever. In the last twenty-four hours, I, Shaunna, read an entire book. A full one. And I cannot express how happy I am to be able to say that! The name of this book? Well, I’m sure you guessed that already based on the title of this review. However, if you did not (fair), or if you didn’t bother to read the title (also fair), then this book is Elly Blake’s young adult fantasy, Frostblood — and I’m going to do my best to concisely ramble about everything I thought about this little book that so avidly held my attention.
Frostblood tells the story of Ruby Otrera, a seventeen year old girl born with fire running through her veins. She must hide her gift from the world, however, as she lives in a land ruled by Frostbloods — and the Frostbloods want her kind dead. When soldiers come to raid Ruby’s village on a winter’s day, she is captured and, after a few different twists and turns, finds herself fighting not only for her own life in the Frostblood King’s arena, but for the future of her world.
Elly Blake’s debut novel has left me with a lot of mixed feelings. Now, I’m sure you’ve assumed already that, since this was the first book that I’ve devoured so quickly in such a long time that I was absolutely hooked and am so madly in love with this book that I want to sing its praises from the rooftops.
Well, you’d be right about the former — but certainly not the latter. Although Elly Blake’s Frostblood kept me eagerly turning pages, and although the plot was fairly addictive, overall, this novel fell quite flat. Usually, I’m not one to be particularly bothered by cliches in the books I read — especially when it comes to YA literature, as stories aimed toward this demographic are usually rife with cliches — if not, at least, playing host to a few. However, Blake’s Frostblood is made of so many cliches that I found myself rolling my eyes on several occasions, and it all became pretty unbearable by the novel’s concluding chapter. I won’t list all of these cliches or this review will likely end up the length of Blake’s entire novel, but here’s a few of the things that elicited sighs and eye rolls during my experience of Frostblood:
– Ruby is the Chosen One. She is, like many YA protagonists, a special snowflake, different from anyone else in her world. Therefore, everyone gravitates towards her (including our Generic Fantasy Love Interest), and she magically gets good at everything just at the perfect moment (can’t use your gift? Well, now you’re fighting a giant beast, you most definitely can!)
– Generic Fantasy Love Interest (AKA, Arcus) smells of “soap and pine”. (Have you ever met a boy who smells like pine? Most of the boys I meet smell of smoke/excessive cologne/occasionally unbrushed teeth. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places…) Anyway, he is Dark and Brooding and Mysterious, and is always mean to Ruby — so obviously she falls in love with him, because we all love boys who are mean to us when we are the protagonist of a YA novel. Of course, his being mean to her just means that he is harbouring Very Secret Feelings for her (even though there is approximately zero chemistry between the two of them) and he will therefore do anything to win the heart of Ruby the Chosen One, even if it means risking his life. I did not root for this romance one bit. Can you tell?
– Ruby just loves books, even though they are barely mentioned until several chapters in, where she just has to save the books from the library because they are too darn precious to let burn. Hello, hi. Just because you are the protagonist of a YA novel, it does not mean that you have to love books. It won’t make you any less relatable. I promise.
Anyway, I’m sure you get the idea. Cliches, cliches, cliches galore.
With all that said, Frostblood wasn’t completely terrible. The writing, although nothing special, was easy and addictive reading, and there was some funny and witty dialogue in places. I found some of the lore in regards to the magic in the novel to be interesting — even if it did need fleshing out in a lot of places. There was a plot twist that, for all of the novel’s predictability, genuinely caught me off guard, and I very much enjoy being caught off guard when reading.
Overall, this was a light and relatively fun read, and people who don’t mind fantasy novels that aren’t overly detailed, or those who are only just delving into the young adult fantasy genre, will probably find more enjoyment in Frostblood than I did. All in all, a decent debut novel, but nothing to be writing home about.
Face them all like a warrior, whether you are one or not.