"It was cold, the kind of cold that made bones feel brittle and hands ache. My breath streamed from my lips like smoke, and my feet made wet, crunching sounds in the snow as I slipped through the forest. As I ran, my lungs ached and my sack of yarn thumped against my back. My cloak tangled around my ankles, but I yanked it free without stopping."
Frost by Kate Avery Ellison is the first book in the Frost Chronicles series.
Set in a cold world, elusive monsters called "Watchers" exist. Hiding in the forest, they are rarely ever seen, hunt at night, are immune to weapons and are only held at bay by snow blossoms (sky blue flowers) that people keep around their thresholds and wear as necklaces for protection. However, they don't guarantee your safety.
The villagers of Iceliss (just known as "the village" to locals) have hard lives in the Frost. To survive in the frozen, forested landscape every man, woman and child needs to do their part. There are quotas to make sure of it. If you don't meet your quota, you don't get your rations for the week. There are a multitude of different tasks, such as hunting, farming, weaving, dyeing, gardening, etc. From your profession, your surname is derived.
Lia Weaver's job is to spin wool into yarn. She also manages a farm no other villager wanted, as it lies on the outskirts of village, with nothing but forest and Watchers beyond. She must also look after her twin brother, John (who is unable to walk) and free-spitired younger sister, Ivy, after their parents were killed by Watchers.
No one is entirely sure what happened to her parents. They were found without their snow blossom necklaces and were last seen entering the forest with members of the Brewer family. The Brewer family made it back, but Lia's parents didn't.
Now more than ever, her remaining family must follow the rules to survive. If the village believes her unfit, they will take her siblings away. Suddenly, Lia reaches a critical point when the terrifying Farthers come to her village. They come from the city of Aeralis, in the far South. They are known as a brutal race, who imprison and abuse any and all. They are also technologically advanced, especially compared to the little village in the Frost, where technology will get you killed (as it attracts the attention of the Watchers). Aeralis has airships, gas lamps and seems to be similar to cities that exist in the Steampunk world. A dark, frightening place- whose rumours are warning enough.
When a wounded boy turns up in the forest by their house, Ivy is adamant that they save him. He is obviously a Farther and helping him is strictly against the rules, but Lia gives in to Ivy's request. It soon becomes clear that the Farthers are searching for this strange boy, but why? Was it a mistake to help him?
As Lia tries to find answers, her world is turned upside down. Who are The Thorns? What is the Gate? Who can she trust? And how did her parents really die? In this harsh world, one mistake will lead to your death, whether by exposure, Watcher or human.
The plot is fast-moving and sets a great pace. The descriptive writing is done well and depicts the severe world the characters live in realistically. Reading the story, I could feel the icy wind against my face and the constant threat of danger surrounding them. At no point do you ever feel that the characters are safe. This is simply because a safe world does not exist for them. Even without the threat of monsters all around, or brutal soldiers attacking, the elements alone are enough to kill you if you aren't careful.
The characters themselves are realistically nothing special. What I mean is that not every person in the real world is the Chosen One or has ninja fighting skills. Some people you meet might not even be interesting. Some will stick out more than others and some you won't even notice. And that's exactly what the characters are like in this book. Normal, everyday people. Some you relate to and some you forget as soon as they're gone.
The ending leaves you with just enough curiosity to keep reading. For those who don't want to continue the series (for whatever reason), it's also just complete enough to be a stand-alone story. Personally, I enjoyed this book. It held my attention and kept me guessing. Normally, I can figure out what the plot-twists will be or what secrets will be revealed, but this book had a few that surprised me. The finale happened so quickly that I was left wanting to immediately start the next book. I've always been the type of person who has to finish a story once I've started it and I'll definitely be checking out the rest of the series. If you're a fan of young adult books, fantasy or just interested, why not try it too?
Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.