A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Frostblood is the first fantasy book in the Frostblood Saga, in which a constant race war rages between those who can wield ice -- Frostbloods -- and those who can wield fire -- Firebloods. The Fireblood Ruby watches her mother killed by soldiers, is imprisoned and nearly starves, and eventually is forced into a gladiator-style arena to kill people and animals. Those scenes aren't described in detail, but just knowing that people are eaten by animals while spectators cheer will churn many stomachs. Ruby begins her journey bent on revenge against a corrupt king but works her way to understanding. There's also much here about overcoming darkness, evil, and corrupt power and finding lightness and good.
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What's the story?
In FROSTBLOOD, Ruby and her mother lead a simple life tending to their small village as healers -- until the soldiers come looking for Ruby. As a Fireblood she has an ability to wield fire as magic, and the Frostblood king of the land, an ice wielder, wants all the Firebloods eradicated. As the soldiers whisk her away to prison, they kill Ruby's mother and set fire to her village, leaving nothing of her simple life. Things seem hopeless as Ruby wastes away in prison, until one night mysterious hooded rescuers break her out and spirit her away to a secluded abbey. They want Ruby's help to defeat the Frostblood king and offer to help her harness her untested power to fight him. Ruby is torn. While revenge against the king is exactly what she wants, she finds it hard to trust these rescuers, who are two talented Frostbloods full of secrets.
Is it any good?
Here's a fantasy romance that may feel formulaic at first but piles on plenty of intriguing surprises in the last act. First-time author Elly Blake seems like she's taking us to a very familiar destination in Frostblood when a girl is persecuted for her powers, trains to kick butt in a monastery, and finds she's some kind of chosen one to take down the king. But then she's captured and forced to fight as a gladiator, leaving behind both her stoic love interest (mostly) and a predictable ending (completely). From the gladiator fights to the end, it's hard to put the book down.
As the story builds, so does the mythology of this place ruled by wind gods and their curses. Blake's world-building doesn't play out as skillfully. This story is much more character-driven, drawing readers fully into Ruby's inner struggles. Perhaps as Blake moves toward a sequel or two, the world will pop into focus more for a richer fantasy experience. Just like in her world of fire and ice, it's worth finding that balance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the warring races in Frostblood. How are the gods partially to blame? How are the rulers to blame? What harm do stereotypes pose to Firebloods and Frostbloods?
Why doesn't Ruby want to kill the Captain in the arena? Whom does she see in the crowd?
Will you seek out more of the Frostblood Saga? Why, or why not?
- Author: Elly Blake
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: January 10, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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