Shadow Frost by Coco Ma
eBook on October 1, 2019
Series: The Shadow Frost Trilogy #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Young Adult Fantasy
Length: 400 pages Source: NetGalley
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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.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The first word that pops into my mind to describe Shadow Frost is “indulgent”.
This isn’t, strictly speaking, a bad book. It’s relatively entertaining, but it’s extreme and predictable. It has that Disney-esque quality of good triumphing over evil. The characters are highly powered with limited training and few consequences. There were some pretty cool ideas in the skeleton of this novel, but I just didn’t believe it. At all.
And, yeah, okay, this is a fantasy and requires suspension of disbelief. I get that, I really do. But I also have a problem with characters who achieve the highest levels of power so quickly. While I don’t mind a runaway royal here or there having her own adventures (hello The Storm Crow) I have a difficult time with multiple royals running around without interference and doing dangerous things. Like – no big deal if you, the only heir dies! We’ll figure it out! The lack of rules and consequences holding the characters in this world made it so they could run around doing whatever they wanted.
For me, that’s a deal breaker. I love beautifully crafter worlds. I want to see the characters grow and fail and overcome and struggle beautifully. Without consequences, these characters had no apparent growth. The love stories came quickly and too easily. The friendships were uncomplicated. I wanted more depth to these people besides dead parents and lightning fast reflexes.
The one thing I wanted so badly to experience in more detail was the magic system. At the beginning of the book, I felt like Coco Ma had this beautiful, complex, fascinating magic system. Especially in the first chapters, I expected to see more about how this worked, and learn alongside the princess and she struggled to gain control. But that, too, fell aside. The reader was given a once-over of the rules of magic and the rarity of the different types, just enough to follow the plots… then everyone became rare magical experts real fast. I was so disappointed.
In as far as the plot goes, nothing surprised me. There were a lot of things going on to the characters, to the point where it seemed like the author wanted each character to have an equally, dramatic storyline. This novel had six different POVs and a complicated world-building system that was introduced in awkwardly timed flashbacks and a lot of telling.
Please don’t misunderstand – I didn’t hate this book. I think that the ideas in Shadow Frost were fun and interesting, and the characters had potential. But it felt raw and underdeveloped and I expected more. I was disappointed, but I believe that those less thoroughly read in epic fantasy would enjoy this one a lot. It was written as though it was an HBO series, with romance and adventure and fight scenes. There’s an audience out there for Shadow Frost, but it fell a bit short for me.
Do you like or dislike overpowered characters? I can’t deal with them – I find it frustrating how easy things are, but I do like how shows like One Punch Man addresses that. How do you feel?