I recently finished Followed by Frost by Charlie N. Holmberg. I’ve also read Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet as well as The Paper Magician, both written by Holmberg, and I’ve found that I really enjoy all of her books. The aspect I like the most is how unique the concepts of her novels are. I’m always pulled in instantly by the blurb, and she really follows through in the execution. I also like how they are wrapped up neatly in a single volume–in the case Magic Bitter and Followed by Frost.
Without further ado, here is my spoiler-free review. (ha. ha. It rhymes.)
Synopsis/ Other Details
- Amazon (this book is available on Kindle Unlimited for free)
- Charlie’s Site
- Pages: 254 (paperback)
- Publisher: 47North
Seventeen-year-old Smitha’s wealth, status, and beauty make her the envy of her town—until she rejects a strange man’s marriage proposal and disastrous consequences follow. Smitha becomes cursed, and frost begins to encompass everything she touches. Banished to the hills, hunted by villagers, and chilled to the very core of her soul, she finds companionship with Death, who longs to coax her into his isolated world. But Smitha’s desire for life proves stronger than despair, and a newfound purpose gives her hope. Will regrets over the past and an unexpected desire for a man she cannot touch be enough to warm Smitha’s heart, or will Death forever still it?
I’m giving this book 3.75/5 stars.
This was, first and foremost, a love story. For that reason, I’m going to forgive Holmberg for the lack of world-building. Also, I know it can take several books to create a complete, immersive atmosphere, and she did a pretty good job of it in one short book.
Besides, what is lacking in world-development is made up for many times over in character development. The characters were the most believable part of the story. Smitha, the female protagonist, started out as a somewhat disagreeable person.
Okay, a very disagreeable person.
But I love how Holmberg used her experiences to realistically shape her into a YA (somewhat?) heroine with values that anyone can look up to. It was wonderful to watch as the power of Smitha’s curse changed her for the better.
I also really enjoyed the other characters. They were wonderfully written and intriguing–old tropes with a fresh take (Sadriel, anyone?). The characters were the backbone of this story. They were real enough to add depth and lots and lots of heartbreak. The love was slow-building and beautiful, something I can proudly say I will ship for a long time to come. I would have liked some more cutesy-type scenes, but I still really enjoyed how the relationship turned out.
I would like to amend my previous statement though: the main characters are complex and deep, but some of the side characters are quite static and shallow. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of some of their development, but none of it was essential to the story.
I found the plot to be slightly predictable, because in my eyes it was a gender-swapped version of Beauty and the Beast. There were enough similarities that I’m sure this was intentional. Besides the basic outline, though, it was quite unique. The magic was fascinating, although I felt it could have been expanded upon. I would have liked to see more wizards and more action scenes.
Overall, I’d recommend this to someone looking for a quick and light fantasy, which can be somewhat difficult to find in the YA genre these days. Lots of series are very long, detailed, and complex-not that I’m complaining, but this one was quite refreshing.
The Merits of an Audiobook: Discussion
This was my first time listening to an audiobook all the way through , and I think it greatly affected the way I perceived the novel. First, I think it went way slower than it would have had I read it myself. The book was interesting, but listening to the narrator’s voice drone on in that ever-so-slow pace… it was torture, at times. I adjusted the reading speed to x1.25, which actually seemed like 10 times the speed until I got used to it.
Second, I think listening to the audiobook lead me to create imagery based off the narrator’s voice rather than the words she was speaking. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing–probably a little of both. The woman’s voice wasn’t exactly unpleasant, but to me it didn’t really fit the character.
This audiobook also made me realize how much I tend to skim details when I’m reading. My eyes will often glaze over when I’m reading descriptive imagery. My eyes see the words, but don’t observe them (yes, that was Sherlock). Listening to each word made for a much more complete experience, with a fuller, richer world. I’m glad I discovered this flaw in my reading habits so that I might be able to fix it later on. Does anyone else do this? Sometimes I have to go back a few paragraphs to see what I missed.