Fire in Frost

Fire in Frost

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Fire in Frost, hosted by YA Bound Book Tours.

Fire in Frost was written by Alicia Rades and first published in 2015. It is a paranormal fantasy novel about a teenager who discovers that she has psychic powers. The story is the first instalment of the Crystal Frost series but at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Olivia Owen was a beloved member of the volleyball team until her death in a house fire. Although Crystal was not close to Olivia, she still found herself moved by the tragedy. When she starts to see the teenager’s ghost around the school, Crystal’s first thought is that it is a product of her over-active imagination but she soon realises the truth. Olivia has not passed over and she needs Crystal’s help.

Fearing that she is going insane, Crystal confides in her mother and learns the truth of her heritage. Her mother hoped that her psychic powers would skip a generation but Crystal has inherited them and more. While her mother is a clairvoyant, Crystal has also started to develop the ability to communicate with the dead. Crystal is both excited and worried about her new gifts and reveals her secret to only her best friends, Emma and Derek.

However, it is not long before the most popular girl in school – Justine – also discovers that Crystal has psychic powers and enlists her help. Justine has reason to believe that her best friend Kelli is being abused by her boyfriend, Nate. Realising that she has a duty to help others, Crystal begins to use her ability to search for proof to these claims. Yet doing so could well put her in danger. Nate is vicious and possessive and it is not long before he realises that Crystal is prying. Is it possible for Crystal to help both Olivia and Kelli, while still keeping her gifts a secret from people who could use them against her?

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Before I begin, I feel that I should warn readers that this novel touches on some sensitive issues that some people may find upsetting. Am I saying this because I think that it’s a bad thing? Of course not! The novel explores a lot of important teen issues that people often find it difficult to broach and does it in a sensitive and non-judgemental way. Coping with divorce, adoption, death and puberty all play important roles within this story but, most predominately, the story focuses on violence against women.

This is always a difficult topic to tackle in a young adult novel (for some reason, many people seem to prefer to act as though these crimes don’t happen), but Fire in Frost tackles it head on. It shows both sides of the violence, showing the effect that it has on Kelli but at the same time giving a glimpse into Nate’s upbringing to explain why he’s developed such an unhealthy attitude towards women. While this doesn’t excuse his behaviour in anyway, it helps hold a mirror up to our society – showing that how out-dated beliefs regarding male superiority and ownership created monsters out of people. The scenes which revealed Kelli’s suffering were difficult to read and, because of this, I found them to be very effective. Rades did not sugar coat the violence in any way but instead showed the huge emotional and physical impact that it had on Kelli and those who loved her.

The story itself was a little slow to start. The opening chapters of the novel introduced too many characters in a short space of time and it made it initially difficult to remember who everyone was. As only a handful of these characters were actually important in the greater scheme of things, I felt that perhaps some of them could probably have been eased in later in the tale (in particular Crystal’s Mum’s friends, Kelli and Nate) in order to make the opening feel a little lighter. However, as Crystal slowly discovered herself, the story picked up pace and became a very enjoyable light read. The prose felt very well edited and flowed neatly from one event to the next.

I especially liked the fact that Crystal was so open with people about her abilities. It’s a common trope in superhero stories (which this essentially was) in which the character develops powers and keeps them a secret from everyone, inevitably putting her loved ones in danger. Crystal shares her secret with everyone important to her – her friends, her mother and even her father-to-be. This was incredibly refreshing as it meant that the story could spend a lot more time in focusing on the mystery elements.

While Fire in Frost is a breezy and satisfying novel, I did not think it presented the best mystery. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the story very much but it held little surprises. I had a pretty good idea as to what was going on from about a third of the way through the story and it really didn’t have any twists hidden up its sleeve. Even the identity of the little girl in Crystal’s visions was made a little too obvious in the background conversations that her friends have (though I’m really baffled as to how Crystal manages to miss all of these hints herself until the end of the story).

I also felt that the novel began to lose a little steam following the climax. It just kind of petered away with no real sense of closure. We never discover what becomes of Nate and the story involving the little girl is left open for the sequel. While this was not as jarring as some of the cliff-hangers that I’ve criticised in the past (cough cough, The Knife of Never Letting Go), it was still a little disappointing. It left Fire in Frost as more of an open ended lead into the sequel than a complete and tightly bound story in its own right.

In terms of characters, I also thought that the novel was very strong. Crystal is a capable and determined lead. I loved her conflicted view of her abilities – fear of how others would treat her if they found out versus eagerness to explore them. I felt that this was a very realistic attitude to take towards these gifts and I really liked the fact that her loved ones stuck by her without any drama, distrust or jealousy. Both Derek and Emma were wonderful supporting characters, both of whom were caring and wholly endearing.

Actually, it was the lack of drama that made the entire cast so likable to me. I’ve read so many school-set novels lately that ran on angst that to finally get hold of one where everyone got along was incredibly refreshing. There is no bitchiness here. Even Justine – the character who was in best position to be the school drama queen – turned out to be down to earth and only concerned about the wellbeing of her best friend.

Anyhow, this was only a short novel and so I don’t have much more to talk about. Fire in Frost was a satisfying light read that contained a very strong cast and carried an important message about violence against women. While enjoyable, my only real concerns were the fact that the story was quite predictable and seemed to lose steam over the final chapter. However, I wouldn’t let this put you off. Fire in Frost was a strong start to the series and I really look forward to seeing where it will go next.

Fire in Frost can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alicia Rades
    Mar 25, 2015 @ 11:46:11

    Thank you so much for the review!

    Reply

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