Series: Frozen Sun Saga #1
Published by Blackstone on August 6, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Thanks so much to Fantastic Flying Book Club for including me in the blog tour for Jill Criswell’s debut novel, Beasts of the Frozen Sun. It’s one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read all year so I’m thrilled to share my thoughts on it.
Beasts of the Frozen Sun is an entertaining and action-packed read that features clans engaged in warfare, Gods who enjoy manipulating members of the clans for their own entertainment, and caught in the middle of it all, a young man and woman who should be enemies but cannot help their attraction to one another. It’s set in a dark world with an almost medieval feel to it. Battles are fought with axes, swords, and arrows, and prisoners are brutally tortured at will. The warring clans reminded me of Vikings, which was a big draw for me, and I also loved the Gods as a meddling presence, as well with the mythology of Aillira, a God-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair was the catalyst for a war between the Gods and mortals.
The protagonists were the biggest draw for me though. Lira, who is named after the famed Aillira, is God-gifted like her namesake and has the ability to read a person’s soul just by placing her hand on their chest. She’s literally a human lie detector, and her father, who is the chieftain of their clan, uses her as such to root out traitors. Lira is a scrappy heroine who knows how to wield a sword. I loved how feisty and strong-willed she is, and I especially admired how determined she is to stand up for what she believes was right, even if that sometimes means defying her father and her entire clan.
Lira’s gift comes in handy as we meet the second protagonist, Reyker, a warrior, who after nearly drowning, has washed up on the shores of Glasnith, where Lira’s clan is based. While it’s clear from Reyker’s appearance – golden hair and ocean blue eyes – that he is from the land of the Frozen Sun and therefore a ruthless monster and a sworn enemy of Lira’s clan, one touch from Lira reveals that he is not the monster she has been led to believe all of his kind are. Rather than kill him as she has been taught she should do, Lira opts to hide Reyker and nurse him back to health.
I adored Lira, but Reyker is a really great character too. Yes, he has done some things that could be considered monstrous, but as Lira sees, both through her gift and as she gets to know him better, most of what he has done he was forced to do against his will. Reyker is actually a tortured soul who hates himself because of the violent things he has been forced to do. He has also suffered great personal losses, which have left him broken and alone.
While the action surrounding the war between the clans was exciting and certainly made Beasts of the Frozen Sun an entertaining read, it’s this growing relationship between Lira and Reyker that really made me fall in love with this story. I’m not generally a huge romantic but forbidden love is definitely a soft spot of mine, especially when the chemistry is off the charts like it is between these two. I was there cheering them on every step of the way and pretty much willing them to stand up and defy their clans in the name of love.
The writing and the pacing of Beasts of the Frozen Sun couldn’t have been more perfect. The book is nearly 400 pages and I zoomed through it in just a couple of sittings because I was so invested in the fate of both Lira and Reyker. Criswell does end Beasts with an evil cliffhanger though and now I’m anxiously awaiting the second installment in this exciting series.
If you’re into fast-paced, action-packed dark fantasies that feature warring clans and star crossed lovers, you should definitely give Beasts of the Frozen Sun a try.
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.
As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.
Prize: Win (1) of (3) BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN bundles: a signed copy of the book and some author swag (a bookmark, pendant, and magnet) [INT]. Giveaway ends August 28, 2019.