Shadow Frost, Coco Ma

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Discipline, talent, and hard work fueled by the burning desire to impress her mother had honed her into a terrifying force to behold

When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. 

*
1 / 5

I don’t really like writing negative reviews, so I’ll keep this one short. I massively respect anyone who can write a book and get it published. UnfortunatelyShadow Frost made me feel pretty similar to how I felt when reading Frostblood, which is super bored. I read somewhere that the author first wrote this when she was fifteen, which made total sense, because this book is chock-block full of the kinds of things I might have written when I was that age, like being a magical super-powerful princess with several men fighting over me because I’m just that awesome.

“I want you to be proud of me for who I am!” Asterin shouted. “Not what I can do.”

Princess Asterin Faelenhart is the heir of Axaria and she spends the first 20% of the book fencing in her bedroom with her childhood friend and mentor Orion. She spends all her time thinking about how rock solid Orion’s abs are and he get very protective over her, but they aren’t into each other. At. All. Right? Orion gets given a different love interest in an attempt to divert a love triangle but it still reads A LOT like a love triangle. Enter new hot boy Quinlan, who is totally brooding and powerful and a little bit bad. Did I mention he is also super hot? He arrives at court with his cousin Rose as a gift to join Asterin’s elite guard.

Asterin hears tell of a dark monster destroying a couple of villages, confronts her mother, and demands to be allowed to march to her apparent death with only five people to keep her company. Despite this being very dangerous, she decides to take her friend/maid Luna. Alright. This is about when I twigged that Asterin is a moron. She also takes the Captain of her guard, Eadric, who I did like. They voyage out to find the monster and end up discovering a bunch of devious secrets and plots. Standard stuff.

Rumour had it that someone once tried to stab her in the heart, but the sword had shattered instead

There were quite a few things that I didn’t like about this book. Briefly, I thought Asterin was a moron and a bit of a brat. I couldn’t stand Quinlan or their romance – Quinlan is a brooding boy with a tragic backstory, but also gets his flirt on all the time. Great. Then he starts addressing Asterin as “brat” all the time and crashing in through her bedroom window. Obviously, she swoons because this is super hot. Who addresses a member of a royal family as “brat”? What the hell?? Also his name is daft. Which brings me to another point – we have classic made-up fantasy names like Asterin Faelenhart, classic celestial fantasy names like Orion and Luna, and then Harry. Then the characters are talking like “we shall meet on the ‘morrow dear brother” (not an exact quote), whilst living somewhere with hotels. It was really jarring.

The book is narrated in third-person, which I happen to like, but it had about seven POVs. This was totally unnecessary. We ended up seeing the same event – like a fight – twice over, from two different points of view. Then we get a 3-page interlude with some random soldiers we never see again chatting to the Queen. Shadow Frost does a lot of telling, particularly with its plot twists. To reveal something major about a character, the book jumps to that character where he just tells us his secret, instead of letting us experience it and reveal it through the others. It was a very odd style choice.

But my biggest problem was that reading Shadow Frost was very slow-going. I waded through pages of unlikeable characters not doing very much, against a backdrop of a total-mishmash of YA tropes and awful, tedious banter. The author obviously shows some promise – there’s good ideas in here, like I loved the idea of the Houses and their Patron gods with different kinds of magic associated with them – but Shadow Frost reads like it came straight from the mind of a fifteen-year old without any editing going on.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Shadow Frost.

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