Frostblood. Elly Blake. Young adult/Fantasy. 2016. 376 pages. 4 stars.
Affairs between fire and frost rarely end well.
The frost king will burn.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete 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.
Frostblood is every YA fantasy novel trope. If you’ve read one, then you’ll be able to predict this until the end.
If you read this while comparing it to how similar it is to other books such as Red Queen, The Young Elites, etc., you’ll easily get bored. I was frustrated during the first half because not only did this book play into every cliché such as the MC harboring powers, getting caught by the king’s guard, getting thrown into prison then rescued by a band of rebels, training with said rebels to throw down the existing monarch— you’ll know the rest if you’re familiar with fantasy tropes—but Ruby was your typical dumb main character. If she would just stop and think, half of the conflicts in this book wouldn’t have happened.
However, if you were to read this as a single unit, not comparing it to other books, it’s actually a masterpiece. The writing was good, the plot was well thought out with a colorful historical background I enjoyed learning about. The characters in the book were dynamic and I liked them. The elders in the abbey were a source of joy, reminding me of my grandparents. Arcus is a convoluted puzzle I wanted to solve because of his ever changing moods. Even then, I genuinely loved the way he interacted with Ruby. Marella was a great addition to the book, thickening the plot and making me wonder how far this secret mission stretched out. I also enjoyed Braka’s comments, even if she only appeared pre-fights.
The first part of Frostblood was boring, predictable in every single way. It was like rewatching the same movie again since it followed so many YA fantasy tropes. The second part was more interesting. I shut up with my judging on Ruby and her stupid decisions and started seeing her character mature. Talk about redemption! We get to see Ruby harness her powers outside of training in the abbey and with this kind of exposure inside the castle, she finally becomes the heroine everyone wanted her to be. I enjoyed the arena fights—very Roman like. They even included animals which was historically accurate and loved! I also did not expect that plot twist! Elly Blake did me so good.
For all my slandering on the first half, the second half made up for it and I’ve never been happier to be proved wrong. 4 stars!