Shadow Frost by Coco Ma – A Review

Hi! Happy book birthday to Shadow Frost by Coco Ma, a new YA fantasy!

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma
  • Publication date: October 1st 2019
  • Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
  • Genre: YA Fantasy

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.

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. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing and eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Shadow Frost is a book I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, it is an interesting new fantasy story, written by a 15 year old (!!!), with a lot of potential, on the other hand, it is quite inconsistent and full of clichés.
I going to try not to spoil anything, as the book comes out in a couple of months, so my thoughts might not be explained fully.

The book starts off amazing. It really captured my attention from page 1. The writing is beautiful, too, and it makes it hard to believe a 15 year old wrote it, which is even more impressive. Yet, with every chapter the book becomes more clunky and all over the place.
Shadow Frost is a high fantasy, with kingdoms, magic and a princess as a main character – Asterin.

She’s not your typical princess (although very typical nowadays in YA), she enjoys fighting and all of the non girly things. She also has quite powerful magic. As we find out about halfway through the book, she is often sent on secret missions around her kingdom, to protect her people.

There are other main characters whose perspective we get to read from.

Orion is Asterin’s friend and her royal guard. He’s sworn to protect the princess. The story sets up as there could possibly be some romance between the two, but it dissolves along the way, when Orion becomes interested in someone else. I’m not sure if it’s a spoiler, or not, but I felt like the character was written as a possible love interest for Asterin, then Rose, and ended up being edited in the later revisions for more representation.

Luna, the lady in waiting, and Asterin’s best friend (or is she?) was one of my favourite characters. She doesn’t have any magic and no real skills other than she’s a great sculptor. She really develops throughout the book and her journey is definitely the most interesting of all, although at the start, she’s not particularly important.

Rose, or Orozalia, is a queen of the neighbouring kingdom. She joins Asterin’s guard in disguise. She’s a great fighter, and altogether badass, and we definitely don’t get enough of her in the book.

Quinlan, Rose’s cousin, is my least favourite character. He is a pain in the backside – arrogant, in love with himself, and all in all annoying. I’m sure many girls are going to swoon over him, and maybe as a teen I would, too, but now that I’m old and a bit smarter, I know better.

Eadric and Harry are characters I can’t say anything about because there really isn’t much to say. They don’t really develop, and one serves nearly no purpose at all.

As characters go, I see some of them appealing to the target audience (I understand I’m not part of it).

As I said earlier, the writing is beautiful at the start. It doesn’t deteriorate much as the story progresses, not much, anyway, but it definitely changes and becomes more clumsy. The dialogues especially. I didn’t like that the tone changes so frequently between the flowery language to a colloquial one, and it made it difficult to be fully immersed in the world. Another thing were the names of characters… we got Asterin, Eadric… and then Hayley, Nicole, Harry. It’s just incredibly jarring to read these in one book.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the magic system. If you like Avatar The Last Airbender, then you definitely will enjoy it, too, as it is quite similar. I wish the author didn’t try so hard to make it very complicated, and stopped adding rules to it. It became too complicated in the end, which is a shame, because it gives plenty of space for errors, inconsistencies and loop holes. I understand it’s to make the world richer and more developed, but that could’ve been done in a different way. I mean, being able to control different elements is cool, using stones for it is cool, too. Depending on what family you are from to what’s your affinity is okay, too, I guess. But also using spells? It just gets too much.

What I flat out didn’t enjoy is, surprise, surprise… the romance! Saying that, I’m sure many people will. Romance is just not my thing, and the story could really do without it. Especially without the nearly love triangle, and the main couple teasing each other and calling each other names, but in an “endearing” way. It’s such a kindergarten way of describing a brewing romance.

I think Shadow Frost is a solid YA fantasy with a lot of potential, that many readers will love. It gets 3.75/4 stars from me, because I definitely enjoyed it – I just didn’t love it, as I feel I’m a bit too old for these kind of stories.

I don’t have an aesthetic board for this one, oops. I read it a couple of months ago, and didn’t prepare one.

Buy the book here: BookDepository (as I mentioned in my last post, this is an affiliate link and I would be eternally grateful if you decided to use it while purchasing books).

I’ll be back this evening with my September wrap up! Thanks for reading!

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