So this one is going to be short and sweet because its 2.30am and I’m tired as all hell. But I gotta review it now before I lose track of what I want to say. To start, this novel is problematic as all hell. The way it treats abusive relationships and homosexuality like it is something to be ignored is just beyond comprehension. And while I don’t want to forgive it, I kind of have because it turned out to be a pretty great book.
Astaerin is a princess who refuses to follow the norms of polite culture – she fights and uses magic, wandering around the countryside whenever she pleases. When her country begins to be attacked by a demon, she decides to go questing in order to vanquish it and bring peace back to her people. Taking along her merry band of misfits, she sets out for a quest to change the world.
For around the first 30-40%, this book was kind of trash. Basically it can be summed up as ‘girl goes questing with her friends, they fight a demon in a town and then hang out in a cottage for 100 pages’. It took me… wait for it… 3 MONTHS to read the first 150 pages. Yep, this was a read a chapter and then ignore it for a few months type book. But tonight, I finally got to a point where something interesting happened and I binged the rest of it.
Which leads me to the second half. Let me tell you, it’s good. Like super amazing good. So fantastic in fact that it kind of reads like someone swooped in ghost writer style and wrote the second half. Either that or Ma suddenly worked out what the hell her plot was going to be and frantically typed until she could type no more. This section is full of magic and mayhem and lots of gasping as ALL THE THINGS happen as you enthusiastically flip the pages. Let me tell you, there is actually a twist WITHIN a twist and if you aren’t like me and able to pick it, you will be retrieving your jaw from the floor. Alas, I read too much and picked the identity of The Woman within 5 pages of her popping up (this is not Ma’s fault, its mine for reading too much).
Most of the characters were a little take-it-or-leave-it for the first half, except for that of Luna. For some reason, I kept envisaging her as a child, although it’s not possible because she is a chamber maid/lady in waiting. Even when she had her big reveal, I still saw her as having a meek and mild exterior with a raging flame of a soul inside.
So, as I said earlier, the first half has its issues but the second half is amazing. The pacing for a large majority of the novel felt just a little off; while it speeds up and gets really interesting, it goes from being bland to super fast paced within a few pages. Inevitably I have missed something within the narrative which left me confused in parts. This may have also been actual plot holes, I am actually not sure…
Lastly I want to talk about the romantic interests within Shadow Frost. Because there are so fricking many of them. For the most part, they are well done. Everyone has their perfect mate or is quietly pining after whomever. Luna and her love interest are ultimate goals, going above and beyond to make sure each other are safe. But then there is the M-M relationship that could have blossomed. But instead it felt a little forced and only included to give this book some LGBT+ rep. While others have tender moments, this relationship is all missed opportunities and longing stares until the end when someone goes missing. Honestly, either fully explore the relationship or just leave it out – if it wasn’t meant to be there, dont include it just for rep because it leaves you looking like a toss.
Basically its a good read so long as you can get over its pacing issues and poor treatment of certain characters. Its fun and magical and feels very finished despite it having a sequel coming in the future. Perfect for those who loved Grace and Fury and Ash Princess.
Until next time lovelies xo