Release date: January 17, 2017
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Frostblood, at first, seemed to me like it would be some sort of Red Queen-Hunger Games crossover, and I admit, with the two races it does seem so. But Blake has created an intricate mythology in a fantasy world about two kinds of races created by two different wind gods. The Frostbloods can manipulate ice and the Firebloods, fire, and they are equal in power – but for centuries now the kingdom has been ruled by Frostbloods and the Firebloods have been killed off in mass genocides. Ruby is a hidden Fireblood, who get caught up in a plot to assassinate the current Frostblood king. Saved from the prisons and cloistered away in an abbey, she is being trained to enhance her fire powers so that she can face the power of the King. But she also starts to fall in love with the closed off Frostblood warrior, who seems to hate her at first but slowly warms up to her.
The tone of the book is quite different in its two parts – the first is faster in pace, and has magic and romance dominating the story, while the second is slower, and goes into the mythology and characterization. Ruby, the daughter of a healer, can’t take the mindless violence of the arena, and the kill or be killed situation is torment for her. But more importantly, something dark is rising to threaten the whole kingdom, and she has to be strong enough to fight it. As a character, she is tempestuous, passionate and reckless, much like the fire in her veins, and it is more that she is carried along with the plot rather than directing it.
The author’s writing is quite good, and there are some beautifully written scenes like the fights in the arena, the quiet slow burn romance between Ruby and Arcus, and Ruby’s fear of the Darkness. There were some plot-holes with respect to the prophecy, though, which didn’t make sense. And the ending could have been unraveled better – it was a bit messy, and challenged some parts of the novel and character motivations. Overall, this is a strong debut, though, and I’m excited to see where this author will take the story.