Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Length: 400 pages
Series: Shadow Frost, Book 1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication date: October 1, 2019
Eternity. It was as endless and grey as the bleak sky above, broken only by the craggy teeth of the mountain peaks. Gusts of snow lashed at barren rock, the bitter wind howling with the fury of a thousand souls forever damned.
Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she might very well hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom. And she’s vowed not to rest until the beast has been slain.
Together with her friends – and powers she doesn’t yet fully understand – Asterin sets out on her mission. Her only task? To kill the demon. Yet as they hunt, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself. Uncovering lie after lie, Asterin and her friends struggle to figure out how much of their lives have been lies. With no one else to turn to, they must decide who they’re willing to sacrifice in order to protect the only world they’ve ever known.
That is, of course, as long as the demon doesn’t get them first.
Asian Readathon Challenges Met:
1. Read a book written by an Asian author: Ma is of Chinese decent.
2. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who you can relate to: Asterin is female (and that’s pretty much the only similarities we have). Ma is a Canadian, and so am I (again, pretty much the only similarity between us).
3. Read a book featuring an Asian character or written by an Asian author who is different from you: Ma is an accomplished pianist, and while I’ve always wanted to take lessons I have no idea how to play the piano.
This is a fast paced novel, filled with tricks and turns. One of the ways that this is so well done is through the short chapters and the multiple perspectives. I know my best friend has a problem with chapters that seem to run on forever so it was refreshing to see that this book didn’t have that going on. Especially since it means she might very well enjoy this story as much as I have.
It’s hard to get multiple perspectives done right, and Co ended up doing just that. The switch between characters is done wonderfully, making it easy for the reader to understand exactly when the perspective has changed as well as I applaud her for it as writing such a fantastic debut novel is hard to accomplish.
Asterin and her friends risk everything in this tale trying to find and destroy the demon that’s wreaking havoc. Knowing that they might not return with their lives, their determination brings them to the heart of the demon’s hunting grounds. Little do they know the truths that they’re going to unveil along the way.
Things aren’t always as they seem in this world and it’s Asterin’s job to uncover the truth – even if she doesn’t know it. Her friends are willing to risk their lives in order to protect Asterin and find the truth, to protect not only their kingdom but the entire world from the darkness that’s started to befall them. The biggest question is if Asterin will be able to save her friends.
If you’re looking for a fast paced YA Fantasy read, I recommend giving this read a try. Not only is it a fantastic debut novel, I truly believe it’s a great novel all around. It was engaging and fun, harrowing and heart wrenching. I look forward to reading more of Ma’s works as they’re released. (God Storm‘s expected publication date is October 20, 2020 – amazon link).
One of the things that took me off guard about this novel is how many things were reveal in this, the first installation of the series. I adored reading the book and drawing conclusions based on the clues littered throughout the story – such as who “the lady” was that controlled Harry or why Luna was so protected by the queen – but I expected more of these things to be revealed slowly throughout the series. I wonder what other hidden agendas will be revealed throughout the story. (Though I do still think that some of these “reveals” are red herrings and we’ll find out the truth later on.)
Asterin and her friends proved time and time again that they’re more than capable of dealing with the darkness ahead. Sure they struggled at times to get things done, but they’re much stronger together than they are apart. Working together the crew was able to save both Quinlan and Luna, for example.
While I wish that Asterin had thrown the shield in front of Quinlan and jumped in front of Luna to try and save them both, I can understand why this isn’t what ended up happening. It would’ve been too convenient for Asterin to save both of them, and the way Ma wrote it guaranteed continued conflict throughout the book. As Luna is Priscilla’s daughter, this is a great way to sew the seeds of unease between the best friends.
I seriously feel for Luna, having the one person in the world she’d give everything up for being unwilling to do the same. She was Luna’s home, and Luna lost it all. Sure she might have discovered her brother and sister, along with her biological father, but she would have left all that for Asterin. Add the fact that she questioned Asterin further, if she would’ve thrown the shield in front of Orion instead if her yet got no definitive response, and it’s no surprise that Luna wanted out. Out of the kingdom and a break from Asterin. To find out who she actually is and how to much she can actually do with the magic she’s recently rediscovered.
But more than anything, I feel for Harry. He was forced to become a demon by his parents, to serve a god of Darkness. He was forced to follow the commands of a woman who was poisoning and killing her own people. He grew to care for the very people he was tasked with killing. Heck, he fell in love with Orion who followed him into the Immortal world without realizing Harry was planning on coming right back.
And yet there’s still hope. Harry will go to the ends of the Immortal world to find Orion. Asterin’s mother is alive. The whole squad survived. Yes things aren’t all fun and games, but they’ve still got the ability to fix it.
I also enjoyed the plot lines that the reader got to know before the characters themselves. Getting to see “Queen” Priscilla killing that young boy to keep her secret was a great hint as to who “that lady” was. Heck, when Luna and Harry end up shadow jumping into the castle, they end up near the Queen’s chambers. I like to think that the darkness Harry sensed was the boy’s death and his dead body still sitting there. Morbid, I know, but how great is it to think that Harry was about to uncover one of Priscilla’s crimes and then they never revisit it. It’s like Harry and Luna just forgot about their deal to go back and check things out. Sure they were dealing with a huge fight and disastrous choices, but if it was really bad enough that Harry was willing to put the mission on pause to go after it and Luna had to convince him to wait, one would think that they’d go searching after the fact.
Poor Luna, living this long with everyone looking down on her and not taking her advice to heart. To have Harry, the demon they’d been sent to kill and then befriended, be the one to take her seriously had to be hard. Heck she’d been with Eadric for what I assume was a while now and even he didn’t take her seriously? It doesn’t sound like Luna’s had the best luck with relationships so far. (It’s already clear that Asterin was a shitty friend to her, so I won’t get into it even more here.)
I look forward to reading more in this world once God Storm has been released. Who knows, maybe the reader will get to learn more about Cade and his relationship with Rose. While I know I shouldn’t be rooting for them, I still hope to find out why Cade used Rose in school yet was there to back her up in the final climactic fight. I’d like to believe because there’s something there between them.