Trope University: A Review of Eerie by C.M. McCoy

28252234Title: Eerie
Author: C.M. McCoy
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Publication Date:  December 19th, 2015
Paperback: 434 Pages
Source: Author

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world’s premier supernatural university. It’s a school she’s never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that’s not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship…

Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid. When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds only one place offers her answers–a paranormal university in Alaska. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her otherworldly classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from the evil immortal who took her sister doesn’t decide to kill her himself.  

“Those who look for a reason to fear will find one, and those without reason will follow.”

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Eerie’s premise promises a paranormal thriller-cum-romance, complete with a murdered sibling, a cursed heroine, and an enigmatic love interest. Recent high school graduate Hailey Hartley finds herself contending with the murder of her sister Holly, the knowledge that one of her best friends is practically immortal, and that the literal man of her dreams is all too real, all while attending a university in Alaska that focus on ParaScience. While doing so, she discovers that she has an affinity for ghosts, and befriends a banshee from Hell- who happens to be her roommate

Eerie could be perhaps said to deliver on its promises, if one were a thirteen-fifteen year old girl intent on devouring every Twilight-esque paranormal clone on the shelves. Unfortunately, I found it to fall more than a little short on several counts. While not a thirteen-fifteen year old, I do have a certain fondness for paranormal romance fluff. I didn’t have particularly high hopes for Eerie to be a paragon of the genre; however, I expected, after seeing the reviews and press, to at least find it a decent bit of brain candy. Instead, I found myself so angry at the travesty that unfolds within its pages, that I couldn’t even call it a mindless read.

The book starts off on poor footing. Hailey, and her plot device sister Holly, have the exact same voice. During the few pages in which we see them interacting, I had to keep stopping to remind myself of which sister was which. While I understand that Holly existed only as a plot device, when she dies (quite horribly, I must add), we have no reason to be invested in her death. Hailey is, certainly distraught… except, she isn’t. Instead she has the inner strength and fortitude to soldier through and personally try to poke about Holly’s murder. The author gives us no reason to care about Holly’s death other than Hailey’s pain, and that pain is neither believable, nor compelling.

Also not believable is how nonchalantly Hailey takes the continual reveals of the supernatural within her life. The general world of Eerie does not seem to be one where monsters, ghosts, and magics are commonplace- yet Hailey never bats an eye at an offer of a scholarship to a “ParaScience” university in Alaska. Or that her “uncles” from Ireland made it across the ocean in less than a night. Or that Fin, who worked at her family’s bar, was actually an immortal in service to an Envoy. I could go on, but there are so many of these incongruities that I could fill up a book with them. Oh wait….

Bear Town University, where Hailey goes off to college, attempts to be the Hogwarts of the paranormal. It would more aptly be named the University of Ghostbuster Tropes. The only positive to getting to the university is that here, we meet the one character I found at all interesting. Unfortunately, what could have been a rather different and engaging concept, becomes yet another wooden prop for the main character. Giselle, Hailey’s roommate, is a banshee- from Hell. She cries cobwebs, is rude and hates everyone, and is slowly being redeemed by the Magic of Hailey’s Friendship.

At Bear Town, we also properly meet Asher, the Envoy of Hailey’s dreams- who, by the way, exemplifies every warning sign of an abuser. Asher takes a very possessive and demeaning approach to Hailey; if she does not do what he wants, he hurts her. He manipulates Fin into hurting her, so that she will stop caring about Fin. He threatens to kill people who so much as speak to her crossly. But of course, Asher only does all of this because the Envoys don’t understand emotions. In fact, emotions are anathema to their kind; any Envoy caught displaying them is to be put to death. But he loves her so much, Asher will risk death for her, of course.

Eerie presents us trope within trope within trope, none of it in any sort of compelling manner. The main character is unsympathetic and wooden. The love interests represent the extreme examples of the worse sorts of partners. The setting and side characters are nothing but props for Hailey to bounce off. The villain of the story- because yes, we do have a villain- is so absolutely forgettable flat that I don’t even remember his name. It was, from start to finish, a disappointment of epic proportions. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.

 

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January Wrap-Up + Book Haul

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Welcome to Shelfie’s very first monthly wrap up where we will talk about the books we read in January of 2017, the posts we made, and the books we bought. This may be a long one, guys. Are you ready? Let’s start with what we read!

 

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27969081I cannot properly express the love I have for this book. I started Labyrinth Lost when it released, but it got swallowed by the “to much to do” black hole that was my life at the time. First, the book itself is gorgeous; the cover is stunning, and there are nice graphic touches throughout. Second- and this was such a pleasant surprise- a bisexual main character. Alex’s sexuality is handled in such a perfect, matter-of-fact way, and I can’t thank Cordova enough to that bit of representation. The world is richly developed, pulling from the traditions of Diaspora religions to create an urban fantasy setting an premise unlike any in recent memory. I think the only reason I didn’t give it five stars was that it was my first book of the year.

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27064385Honestly, going from the glory that was Labyrinth Lost to the searing disappointment that was Ivory and Bone was painful. This book has been on my shelf since mid-June; we were going to podcast it, but Caitlin and I both decided against it after reading the first chapter. One of my goals for 2017 is to read all the books I bought in 2016, but didn’t read/didn’t finish, but…ugh. Ivory and Bone promised me prehistoric Pride and Prejudice, and didn’t deliver at all. There are no class distinctions to overcome, nothing really that consistently speaks to the dynamic of P&P. Also, the story is told in first person present, which does not help the narrative. I understand wanting to emulate oral tradition of the era, but, this was a very poor choice on Esbaugh’s part. The only reason I didn’t give this one a single star, is that it is remarkably well researched. I’m pretty sure that, had I not needed a new book to take with me to the doctor’s, Ivory and Bone would have dropped me into a reading slump.

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23924355This book saved me from a reading slump. Fear the Downing Deep is a quick read (I read it in less than a day), and it presents a lovely, eerie take on Celtic folklore and myths surrounding the sea. It did present as if it would be a bit more horror in tone, based on the blub, and I think the reviews suffered because of that. While there are definitely some horror elements, it reads more like a horror/fantasy than jump-scare. Marsh does a wonderful job of creating a definite mood for the book from page one. There were a couple of predictable points, and there is, sadly, insta-love, but those points weren’t enough to hurt my enjoyment. The myths tackled by Marsh aren’t often seen in modern fantasy; her nuanced handling of the subject matter is largely why this book snagged that fourth star.

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21979832So, I was a bit late to the party on this one. It’s been on my To Read list for months, because TIMETRAVELING PIRATES YASSSS, but I just hadn’t found the time to pick it up. Amazon made it impossible to ignore, however, when they put the ebook on sale as part of the GoodReads Choice Awards promotion. I must say that I had forgotten this was a debut novel until after I finished reading; I wouldn’t have pegged it for a debut at all. The characters, even the side characters, get a lot of development in subtle ways throughout. Heilig’s take on time travel is unique, well thought out, and, most importantly, easily understandable. It’s no wonder The Girl from Everywhere made the Reader’s Choice list. It only has one little thing that kept it out of 5 star territory for me, but it’s a bit spoilery, so I’ll just say it wasn’t anything that hampered my enjoyment of the book.

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31549513Okay, so Caitlin and I are recording a podcast on this book in just a few days, so I don’t want to go too crazy here. Still- this book should totally be on your To Read list. Alchemists has one of the most unique hard fantasy worlds I’ve ever seen. There are a few issues with pacing in places, and others that suffer from a lack of proper explanation, so it does have a few problems. If I were reviewing on literary merit, it would probably be a 3 star read. That said, I am completely in love with the world, and it’s Kova’s worldbuilding that earned that 4th star from me.

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- The Butcher (1)

10874177I had been putting off starting The Finishing School series for years. I first came across them back in April of 2015 when I read The Parasol Protectorate. I probably would still be putting them off if my wonderful sister hadn’t bought me Curtsies and Conspiracies and Waistcoats and Weaponry for Christmas. So, I went out and acquired the first and last books in the series and dove in. Worth it. Etiquette and Espionage is mostly set up, but you meet some wonderful new characters and some old friends reborn. Add in the wonderful Victorian humor and it’s fabulous. Warning: If you are expecting as serious steampunk novel, don’t bother with this one. This series is Tea Punk Comedy at it’s best.

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15723286Where Etiquette and Espionage was mostly setup for Carriger’s wonderful world of steampunk assassins, Curtsies and Conspiracies is a glorious romp from beginning to end. With the world established we get to see Sophronia and the crew at their finest. It amps up the action along with developing the cast. I can’t decide if I prefer it over Waistcoats and Weaponry, but it is most certainly close. Also, I need a wiener dog named Bumbersnoot that I can carry as a purse. I’m not the only one that wants that right?

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It is extremely difficult to choose between Waistcoats and Weaponry and it’s predecessor. However, this book show you just a tiny glimpse of Lord Akledama, my favorite of Carriger’s Victorian era Supernaturals. So, that is certainly a plus. This novel is also an action packed comedy of manners from start to finish. There is simply no stopping. I had a hard time finding good spots to put it down. Due to that, this was the only book in the series that I read in one sitting. I guess it’s really not that hard to choose since I am talking about this book far more fondly than they other two. I can see where some people would be disappointed as the majority of the story takes place outside of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, but I enjoyed seeing other parts of the world and not just the boarding school dirigible.

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Manners and Mutiny was not the ending I wanted for this series. That is not to say that it wasn’t fun, because it was. I enjoyed every minute of it. That said, the end game was not as epic as I had expected it to be and the heavy handed nod to The Parasol Protectorate felt mostly like fan service. That said, Lord Akeldama makes a few more appearances in the finale and he is always a welcome guest star. I had really just hoped to see more from Sophornia and more from Sidheag, but it is true, she makes her permanent exit in Waistcoats and Weaponry. Oh so sad. To be honest, none of the books in this series have anything on Soulless, which is why none of them got five stars. That said, they are a very funny steampunk journey and were well worth my time. Though, they did have the side effect of making me want to read The Parasol Protectorate again. I have managed to push that off, but not for long as I also need to read Imprudence.

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I was so excited for this debut novel. The cover is just gorgeous and it sounded like it would right up my alley. Sadly, it was nothing but a disappointment. Like I said in my full review, if you have been keeping up with YA Fantasy in recent years, you have already read this book. The powers are similar to Red Queen, the pacing reminded me of Stealing Snow, and the “twist” at the end was Snow Like Ashes reinterpreted. There was nothing about this novel that struck me as original. Which is super unfortunate because I was really hoping to be wowed. I know many of you were. It just really wasn’t for me.

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30279514Dreadnought was a breath of fresh air after finishing Frostblood. It was action packed from start to finish and featured some serious girl power! And if you guys have been listening to the podcast or following my reviews, you know that is something I really like in my novels. It also doesn’t hurt that I am huge fan of all things Super Hero. So, when I heard there was book coming out about a Trangender hero, I just had to read it. And let me tell you, it is fabulous! Move over Captain Marvel! Dreadnought is here! I will have a full review of this beauty up as soon as I can find the right words to explain just how much I enjoyed it. That is taking longer than expected.

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I had been looking forward to The Alchemists of Loom for months. I am a bit of an Elise Kova Fangirl. I even joined the Guild Games (Alchemists FTW), which had to be one of the coolest pre-release marketing events I have ever seen. I am so happy to say that this book did not let me down in anyway. There were some issues I had, that I will discuss in the upcoming podcast, but Kove didn’t fail to deliver her signature chemistry. Not to mention the fact that her world is remarkably unique. I haven’t read anything quite like The Alchemists of Loom. I really can’t wait to tell you guys more about it on the podcast!

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Now, moving on from what we read last month, which was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. We want to talk about the amazing books we bought! Get ready for the Shelfie haul!

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Caitlin went a little overboard this month and bought seven books. Don’t worry, though. Dumbledore approves.

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Cynthia was a little more reserved in her purchases, but she still bought some good ones!

Well, that’s it for our wrap-up guys! Have you read any of the books we read or bought? Did you enjoy them? Hate them? Let us know below! We’d love to discuss.

The Webs We Weave: A Discussion of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Join us for discussion of what they have recently read! This includes, but is in no way limited to, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon! That’s right! We have been talking about it for months and just not got around to talking about it on the podcast. This is definitely an episode you will not want to miss.

WARNING: This is a not a spoiler free review! If you have not read the book and do not like spoilers, we recommend reading the book before listening to this episode.

As promised, we have included pictures of the construction of the cover as well as a video. Check it out. The work that went into the art is amazing! We are convinced it’s magic.

So, have you read the Sun is Also a Star? Was it a hit for you in 2016? Or did it fall flat? Tell us what you think in the comments below or post on our discussion thread in the Shelfie Book Club. We would love nothing more than to hear your thoughts on what we thought was a standout contemporary novel!

You can also find Caitlin’s early review of The Sun is Also a Star here if you prefer something spoiler free.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books mentioned in this episode!

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Introducing The Shelfie Book Club

We here at Shelfie have an announcement! We have opened a book club! It is easy to join if you have a Goodreads account! Just join this group and join in on the fun.

The idea is that we want more community input in our podcasts. We want you guys to tell us what books you want us to talk about and read them along with us! Shelfie isn’t just about us, after all. It all started because we wanted to share our favorite books with the people around us. So, we want you to share too!

Check it out and read along with us as we finish up The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and start The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova! We would love to hear what you have to say about these fabulous novels!

 We are also looking for input on what we should read in March!

Please join us for the fun! We’d love you have you!

- The Butcher (1)

 

Ten Underrated Novels You Should Read

This was a Top Ten Tuesday that I absolutely adored. Since today is not Tuesday, I won’t tag it as such. But, I just couldn’t skip the idea. There are so many books that I don’t think get the attention they deserve. So here are my top ten favorite underrated YA novels. Please give each of them a look. I promise, they are really worth the time.

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Lotus and Thorn by Sarah Wilson Etienne is a fast paced Sci-Fi / Dystopian novel that is full to the brim with girl power. Unfortunately, it suffered from mismanaged marketing and many of it’s 168 ratings on Goodreads are low. Why? Because it was sold as a Fantasy and you won’t find any elves or magic here. It is all Sci-Fi all of the time. So, if you are looking for something new, we here at Shelfie cannot recommend this one enough. We even did a podcast on it that can be found here. Though, if you are worried about spoilers, you should read the book first because that episode is a super spoiler squee-fest. That is usually what happens when you don’t have high hopes for a book and are baffled by how good it is.

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Replica by Lauren Oliver has the most ratings of any book on this list at 3,500. But that seems remarkably low for a book that is so remarkably unique. This is not your average Sci-Fi / Contemporary. No, Lauren Oliver outdid herself with this one. Replica’s unique formatting allows you to read the book in one of many different ways by actually reading one chapter and then physically flipping the book over and reading the next. In reality this gem is two books in one that entwine in ways that I cannot even try to explain. Replica is an experience. An experience that we at Shelfie discussed in detail on our podcast. Check it out here. But again, be prepared for spoilers if you haven’t read the book.

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Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine was a shock. I picked it up looking for a generic Fantasy to get lost in for a few hours and found myself completely enamored. Fine took the “Chosen One” trope and flipped it on it’s head. The main character is marked as a child and chosen to inherit the powers of the Queen when the reigning Queen dies. It doesn’t quite turn out that way. The magical mantle doesn’t pass to Elli and she is accused of rejecting it and threatening their society. I won’t spoil more, but this is a well written story with an interesting take on a common YA theme. It certainly deserves more than the 1,867 ratings it has on Goodreads.

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Hunter by Mercedes Lackey has issues. It is not the perfect novel. That said, the unique setting is what sets it apart. Mythology is bleeding into reality. Monsters of legend pour through rifts and terrorize cities. The Hunters are trained to fight these legends and protect the cities in which they reside. The world building is unlike anything I have seen in the YA genre. The downside is that the main character is not exceptionally well done, though I believe that can be chalked up to this being the first novel in a series and requiring quite a bit of set up. I haven’t read the sequel, Elite, yet. But, I will absolutely review it when I do. If you are interested in hearing more of my views on Hunter, you can find my review here.

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The Reader by Traci Chee is quite the magical debut novel. It is a story within a story within a story. Chee weaves it all together in a way that can’t quite be matched. It is hard to explain without spoiling too much of the story, but the gist is that Sefia lives in a society where books are not common and reading is magic. The story begins when a rare artifact, a book, comes into her possession and she begins reading the tall tales within. There are some far fetched bits, but in the end it’s a wonderful book. If you want to hear more about it you should check out the podcast episode here.  Again, it’s spoilery. So maybe you should read it before hitting play.

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Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Sheier is not just a good book. It is an important book. It is one of very few books that realistically portrays mental illness. One of the main characters suffers from Schizophrenia. This isn’t a light and happy read. It is truly painful to watch the effect it has on him and the people around him. It also touches on the common issues teenagers face while in high school. I wish there had been a book like this for me to read when I was that age. That said, it still left quite the impact on me as an adult. I really cannot recommend it enough.

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Nemesis by Anna Banks is another Fantasy novel that I expected to be run of the mill. Instead I was enamored. The world is rich and interesting with warring kingdoms, a princess in a foreign land, and serpent like dragon mounts. Just do the best you can to ignore the cover, which in all honesty should never have gone to print. They were clearly attempting to show the silver color of the main character’s skin, but it just doesn’t translate. That said, it is easy enough to ignore. So, if you are looking for a good fantasy that you haven’t already read, I suggest picking this one up and enjoying the ride. Especially if you enjoyed The Wrath & The Dawn.

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Menagerie by Rachel Vincent is one of the more unique books on this list. It is an interesting take on Urban Fantasy. Mythical creatures exist and are held captive in carnivals and menageries for the entertainment of society. Delilah, our main character, discovers early on in the book that she is not human, even if she appears to be, and is sold to a carnival that is passing through town. This book is not for the faint of heart. It contains torture, abuse, and rape. However it is a powerful story and well worth the read. I am truly shocked that it only has 3,000 ratings on Goodreads.

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The Reluctant Sacrifice by Kerr-Ann Dempster is the most hidden of the gems on this list. With less than 1000 ratings on Goodreads this Paranormal Romance is not being read nearly enough! Main character, Aubrey is a child of prophecy. Her culture believes that she must be sacrificed in order for them to return to their home land from exile. However, she has no interest in being sacrificed. The book follows her story as she flees the hunters and falls in love. The romance in charming and Aubrey’s development in wonderful. You can find my full review here. If you’re in the mood for a good Paranormal Romance give this one a chance and then tell all of your friends!

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The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden is a true YA Urban Fantasy and those are pretty hard to come by these days. It’s got all of the right pieces: Vampires, Witches, and a supernatural mystery. I was excited to find that this YA novel falls squarely in the Urban Fantasy genre instead of it’s YA cousin, Paranormal Romance. Sometimes you want sexy vampires and sometimes you want a good occult mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I can’t explain why people aren’t raving about The Casquette girls. It’s an awesome story with an awesome cover. You’d think it would be all over everywhere. Instead it has 1,311 ratings on Goodreads. We can change that, right?

 

So there they are. My hidden gems. Do you agree with my choices? Have you read them? Did you love them or hate them? I’d love to hear your opinions so share them in the comments below. And if you haven’t read them, please do!

- The Butcher (1)

 

The Clone Wars: A Discussion of Replica by Lauren Oliver

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Tune in for a walk down Shelife Lane with Caitlin and Cynthia as they talk about meeting Lauren Oliver, Kendare Blake, Beth Revis, and Victoria Schwab. Then join the pair as they discuss clones, conspiracies, and Lauren Oliver’s spectacular Sci-Fi novel, Replica.

WARNING: This is a not a spoiler free review! If you have not read the book and do not like spoilers, we recommend reading the book before listening to this episode.

Have you read Replica? What did you think? Was it the most amazing thing you have ever read or did it fall flat? Did you agree with Cynthia that flipping the book caused a disconnet or was that your favorite part? Have you gotten to meet your author heroes? Share all of your thoughts in the comments below! We would love to hear them!

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So, just in case you wanted proof there is Caitlin with Lauren Oliver and Kendare Blake! Awesome, right?

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books mentioned in this episode!

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The Fantasy Formula: A Review of Frostblood by Elly Blake

27827203Title: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)
Author: Elly Blake
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  January 10th, 2017 
Hardcover: 367 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

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.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

“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.” 

Frostblood was a constant struggle with Déjà vu. At every turn, I was called back to a different YA Fantasy. The pacing reminded me of Stealing Snow, the powers smacked of Red Queen, and the “twist” called back to Snow Like Ashes. There is nothing about this fast-paced Fantasy that hasn’t been explored before. I know that is not an uncommon occurrence in the genre. However, I do expect these ideas to be reinterpreted into something original. Blake fails to do that in Frostblood. If you have been keeping up with recent releases, it is safe to say that you have read this book before. More than once.

The tale follows Ruby, a fire mage of sorts, who is hunted for her powers. She is fierce, stubborn, and possesses quite the temper. As the book develops she remains largely the same. I was hoping to see some development from inept chosen one to powerful warrior. The author does assert this change; however, Ruby’s actions and dialogue fail to reflect it.

Brooding and secretive love interest, Arcus, suffers a similar fate. Had the author been a bit more delicate with her foreshadowing, I might have been interested in his past. Sadly, I had figured out his entire life story by chapter four. This, of course, also meant that I had figured out the “twist” as well. That left me very little motivation to finish the book, except to see if I was right. Spoiler alert: I was.

I found the world to be less developed than the characters. The author mentions countries and conflicts, but glosses over them. Leaving the reader to fill in the blanks with the setting. The religions were given a bit more attention, through childhood stories and prophecy, making the cultures feel more realistic than the environment.

The story in Frostblood is straightforward and wraps up neatly at the end of the book. With this being the first in a trilogy, I am curious to know what the author will explore in the sequels. Though, probably not curious enough to pick up the sequel in September.

If you are looking for a fast Fantasy read and are not picky this book might be for you, but do not expect to find vivid settings of well-developed characters here. Frostblood is an easy and predictable YA romp that focuses more on the romance than the details.

 

- The Butcher (1)