4 / 5 stars
Read in February 2021
Book #1 in The Frozen Crown duology
I would recommend this book for any YA Fantasy readers looking to venture into Adult Fantasy. More specifically, I would categorize The Frozen Crown as New Adult because it combines elements of both genres. It features a 21-year-old protagonist who tells her story in 1st person POV, but the content is more graphic in violence and sexual content than typical YA.
As someone who typically doesn’t care much for political intrigue or copious amounts of court drama, I was a bit nervous going into this book. While there were some moments that felt slow to me, these didn’t last long and ultimately I was pleasantly surprised at just how invested I felt in Askia’s web of political games. The story is well-paced, and Askia’s character development was excellently handled as she learned to play the game, make allies, and manipulate those around her. As strong as she was, my heart broke for Askia as she constantly put saving her people over her own happiness.
This book includes a wonderful and dynamic cast of side characters who had me feeling a wide range of emotions, from love to frustration to suspicion to outright loathing. I enjoyed getting to know them as Askia did and felt every betrayal or slight alongside her. I adored her dutiful guard Illya, her sweet lady’s maid Nariko, and the cunning Queen Ozura, among others. Even better, the plot twists start early in the book (I mean within the first 10%!), and they don’t stop coming until you’ve finished the final chapter.
The magic system in this book is really fun, with enough limitations to make it believable yet plenty of mystery to keep it intriguing. Askia is still growing in her abilities and doesn’t quite understand the extent of her magic, so like everything else in the story we learn about her dark and powerful skills along with her. The other characters’ abilities aren’t explored quite as deeply, but I’m hoping the magic system will be expanded in book #2.
Otherwise, the worldbuilding was just okay. Country and city names were thrown around in a semblance of worldbuilding, but aside from the need to remember the names of the two main kingdoms, the rest didn’t seem important. The same can be said of the world’s cultures; the characters’ clothing and customs varied at surface level, with southern characters being described as ambiguously “dark skinned”, which I didn’t know how to interpret. Also, the title “The Frozen Crown” didn’t really come into play other than the fact that it’s the crown Askia is hoping to win back. It didn’t really fit for me.
All in all, I enjoyed the adult feel to this book and particularly liked the political intrigue more than I anticipated. After that cliffhanger ending, I’m looking forward to seeing how the next book unfolds!
Thank you to Avon and Harper Voyager via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.