Frostheart

Frostheart was written by Jamie Littler and first published in 2019. It is a middle grade fantasy novel which focuses on a young boy with an incredible power, as he is whisked away on an adventure with the eccentric crew of a land-ship. The novel forms the first part of a planned series and its sequel – Frostheart 2: Escape From Aurora – is due for release in October 2020.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Snow Sea has been the domain of the Leviathans. The huge monsters hide beneath the ice, attacking anyone who ventures too far away from the safety of their stronghold. At one time, Song Weavers were able to use their powers to quell the rage of the beasts. Unfortunately, these people have now largely been driven away. After all, the Leviathans could also seize control of the Song Weavers and command them to do terrible things.

Ash has never fit in amongst the Fira. Although he has always struggled to keep his urge to Sing a secret, the Leviathans still call to him and people are starting to get suspicious. Since his parents disappeared, he has been passed from guardian to guardian and now only Tobu – an exiled Yeti – is willing to take care of him. Tobu seems to be intent on pointing out Ash’s flaws as a warrior and trying to prevent him from Singing, but Ash does not really understand why. How can being a Song Weaver be so wrong when the Leviathans sound so beautiful?

When Ash uses his power to save the crew of the Frostheart from the Leviathans, he finds himself exiled from the Fira Stronghold. Fortunately, Captain Nuk is more that happy to welcome Ash aboard her ship. While life on the Snow Sea is dangerous, Ash soon discovers that this comes with freedom that he could never have imagined. Finally he has the chance to follow clues left by his parents in the form of a lullaby – a riddle that could possibly lead him back to them!

Frostheart is the first middle grade novel that has really gotten me excited for a while. The scope of the story is just so vast. In this impressive first novel, it really does feel as though Littler has only brushed the surface of what his Ash’s world has to offer. The novel combines action, mystery and humour with really stunning illustrations to create a wonderful debut novel that contains something for all young adventures.

The world of Frostheart is huge and dangerous, with friendly settlements separated by a vast frozen sea. While there are some hints of an advanced world that came before, most of this technology seems to have been lost and is highly coveted by brave Pathfinders who use it to power their vessels. This setting had me captivated from the opening Lurker attack, and Littler’s cartoony illustrations do a brilliant job of capturing both the beauty of the setting and personality of his characters.

The novel also presents a wonderfully original magic system. As Ash has never been taught what it means to be a Song Weaver, the reader gets to discover this along with him. The power that Song has in this world is never fully explained but is incredibly striking. As the story progresses, Ash slowly begins to learn the different ways that Song Weavers have used (and abused) their power, and this in turn really changes the way that the reader perceives the mysterious Leviathans.

However, although I could not get enough of Frostheart’s world-building, I did find that the plot lost some of its momentum around the middle. While the story never became dull and was always written in a way that was totally accessible for young readers, I did feel that things seemed to fall into place a little too easily for Ash. Every new line from his parents’ lullaby just fell into his lap, requiring no effort from Ash to locate or decipher them. However, as the novel entered its final act and the action ramped up once again, I found that I was truly excited to see how Ash could save his newfound friends from the claws of the Leviathans.

While Frostheart does do a brilliant job of wrapping up this phase of Ash’s journey, it did still leave many questions unanswered for the sequel. While I did personally find this ending to be satisfying, I do think that some readers could be a little disappointed. As this novel drew to a close, it is still not revealed where the Leviathans originally came from, or what terrible disaster turned the rest of the world against the Song Weavers. While this did leave the novel open ended, it was a least a very gentle cliff-hanger that made me excited to see where the story will head from here.

In terms of character, Frostheart could be a little varied. Ash was an incredibly strong and sympathetic protagonist. While he was not perfect by any means, he received a great deal of personal growth as the story progressed. Through his journey aboard the Frostheart, Ash slowly learns that the right path is not necessarily the easiest one to walk, and that if some thing seems too good to be true, it’s usually because it is. Although early chapters revealed that Ash had been dealt a bad hand by the Fira people, I loved seeing how he found himself and grew into a true member of the Frostheart’s crew.

Unfortunately, Frostheart is really only Ash’s story. While the other characters are colourful and memorable, no other crew member receives anything close to his development. I was especially disappointed by Lunah – Ash’s main female friend – as there seemed to be a lot of scope to develop her backstory that was never drawn upon. The only other character that is remotely focused on is Tobu, who’s character growth is a lot more subtle than that of Ash. I am curious to see how their relationship will continue to strengthen in the sequel. It’s clear that Tobu is hiding some kind of huge secret, and I’m more than a little curious to find out exactly what that is!

So, I think I’ve probably rambled for long enough. All in all, Frostheart is an amazing start to this series. It’s funny, original and has some fantastically colourful characters. I really can’t wait to see where Littler will take Ash’s story next and will certainly be getting my hands on the sequel when it’s released later this year.

Frostheart can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book from Amazon.co.uk

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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