A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The mythology in this saga is based on gods representing the four winds, which is present in many world mythologies. And Frost Giants looking over the castle are also present in Norse mythology. Readers can compare the stories the author presents with real-world myths.
Much about overcoming darkness/evil, no matter how difficult, and choosing light/good. Power is an intoxicating temptation here, shown to corrupt and harden hearts against suffering. Two races fight, one almost annihilating the other, showing a world deeply divided by prejudice. Small strides are made toward reconciliation.
Positive Role Models
Ruby is shunned and persecuted for being a Fireblood but still shows her humanity by trying to heal and protect others, even when it's dangerous. She begins bent on revenge against the king but finds her way to understanding instead.
Violence & Scariness
While the scenes in a gladiator-like arena aren't described in detail, people and animals are killed (sometimes people are eaten by animals) and the main character has to kill to stay alive, all while crowds watch, jeer, and cheer. The main character's mother is bludgeoned to death right at the beginning. She's sent to prison and nearly starved and hears a man beaten to death in cell next to hers. Soldiers set fire to a village; people nearly die from smoke inhalation. Talk of how another character nearly died from burns and remains scarred. Plus talk of cursed rulers doing horrible things, such as assassinating family members and perpetuating a war against another race.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing. Talk of women sleeping with gladiator champions.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Talk of soldiers drinking heavily. Wine served at dinner, but no talk of main character -- age 17 -- partaking.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.