This is a book which pulls no punches in its opening scenes and chapters. The reader is thrown into the thick of a complex world, with all the confusion and disorientation which goes along with that, but it certainly makes for an arresting, exciting read. The book opens with some of the main characters – Sabira, the protagonist, along with Tserah, an elder, and Mihnir, a mountain pack-man and Sabira’s uncle – climbing a mountain for Sabira to attempt to bond with a ‘frostsliver’. Frostslivers are shards of the living glacier, worn around a person’s neck. Tserah is a Frost-Cleric who bonded with her own frostsliver many years before, and has chosen Sabira to attempt to do the same. Sabira’s brother Kyran, a major player in the story, had tried to bond with one of his own the year before – his fate since then is uncertain, though Sabira fears the worst.
Then, a well-utilised flashback pitches us into a bloody battle between Sabira’s family and a band of Ignatian warriors which took place the year before. Kyran is severely injured and their mother is beaten. This is our first introduction to the Ignatian tribe; they are the enemy of Sabira’s own people, the Aderasti, who thrive and live in cold, glacial regions. The Ignatians use gunpowder and fire, and have begun to threaten war against Sabira’s people just as, back in the present day, she is chosen to climb the mountain to find her own frostsliver – both a great honour and a great burden.
Sabira’s journey into the heart of the glacier, and her attempts to not only survive after a massive avalanche almost sweeps her to her death, but also to save her people from destruction, make for a gruelling but compelling read. The mythology of the frostsliver, and the sparky and interesting ‘personality’ of the frostsliver which Sabira carries for most of the story, was probably my favourite aspect of the book. I really enjoyed Sabira’s interactions with the glowing glacial shard she wears; its attempts to give advice, instruction and assistance are often met with glowering resistance from Sabira, and their conversations are a joy. I also loved the mythology surrounding some of the creatures of the mountain, and the truth about what happened to Sabira’s beloved brother. The family dynamics and interpersonal interactions were particularly well handled, along with the descriptions of the landscape and its perils.
A shimmering, wintry story perfect for the cold nights ahead, Frostfire is bound to be a hit with adventure-loving readers who enjoy tales of determination, survival, and overcoming the odds – with a bit of help from the most unexpected places.
Frostfire is published by Chicken House Books and is available here.
Jamie Smith is the debut author of Frostfire, shortlisted for the 2016 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. Between working as a retail software developer and dealing with the whims of cats, he has written more books than he should have and is always working on more. He lives near Stafford.
Find out more about Jamie here.
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