ARC REVIEW: SHADOW FROST BY COCO MA

Shadow Frost

Title: SHADOW FROST
Author: COCO MA
Publication Date: OCTOBER 1, 2019
Rating: 5/5

SYNOPSIS

In the kingdom of Axaria, a darkness rises. Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes. Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the immortal realm. Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down. Not one has ever returned.

When Asterin Faelenhart, princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields—though has yet to fully understand—Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless trained soldiers have failed. To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the princess herself instead. Asterin and her friends begin to wonder how much of their lives has been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is, of course, if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

My reviewFirst of all, I loved this story so much. There’s not enough words for me to express my love for this book. I know that 2019 hasn’t ended yet, but Shadow Frost has become my top favorite read of the year so far. Judging by how the story ended, I’m sure there will be a sequel. And as much as waiting for the sequel is painful, I’m so excited to see the continuation of the story and which direction the author will go for next. Shadow Frost was so epic, amazing, it was truly magical and purely brilliant. If you don’t know what to read next, pick this one up!

Shadow Frost is a story about a royal princess named Asterin Faelenhart, who goes on a long journey with her friends to fight off the sinister demon that rumored to have killed and slaughtered people who came across it. During their mission to go after the demon, they found out someone was hired to kill Asterin, and they had to find a way to catch the person. Their journey also revealed a lot of secrets that has been buried for years and the discovery of those secrets lead to a huge battle against evil.

After I read the first few chapters, I knew straightaway that this book will have lots of intense battles that involved magic. The magic that were used for this story is the elemental magic. I loved the concept of the elemental magic and how the nine elements has different type of magical powers. I also get to learned how many elements can one person wield. The author really did a great job of explaining how the magic works and how some people can wield one element, and some can wield three, and there are those rare people who can wield all nine elements. Each of these magic are unique, seeing the characters in the book using it during the battle was just breathtaking. I was in awed seeing how the elemental magic works and what each of the magic can do to a person or any other sinister creatures. There was also a mention of shadow magic, which was something that I was curious about the whole time. I find the shadow magic to be so terrifying because of what it can do to a person. I know for a fact that I’ll be seeing more of it in the sequel.

This book has unique and brilliant concept when it comes to magic, but the world-building…it was very well-crafted. I really dig the world-building of this story. This book focused more on the mortal realm, since that is where the heroes and heroines of the story lived in. There was a slight mention of the immortal realm, but I’m hoping we’ll able to see it in the sequel. I was wondering how the immortal realm looks like, the description doesn’t do it justice, but I pictured it as the post-apocalyptic realm that are full of fires everywhere and it kind of looks like hell (not that I ever seen hell). I was wondering what are the beliefs that the people from each kingdoms has, there’s no mention about it. And also what type of culture do the people from each kingdoms use and what tradition they follow. I hope to see that aspect of them in the next installment.

The setting of the story was very interesting, I can already imagined how beautiful it all looks like. The story takes place mostly in Axaria, one of the kingdom in the mortal realm. There was also a mentioned of other kingdoms, but the only kingdom that gets a huge mention was Eradore. We’ve seen what Axaria looks like, and it was described as majestically beautiful, which is true by the way. How I wish I can live there, well…in my own imagination that place does exist and that I actually live there! So, I was wondering what Eradore will be like. I have a feeling we might get to explore it in the next book, since two of the main characters live there.

The writing was excellent. It does make the story flow so well and also it’s easy for me to understand the whole thing; the plot and the concept of the story. The writing makes it all better. With good writing, come a good story. I truly enjoyed the whole book, literally devoured it deeply. It wasn’t a predictable story, and I was happy nothing is obvious. The more I read it, the more I was curious about so many things, especially the true identity of some characters. The story brings out the detective in me, I was trying to find all the clues/hints about certain characters, and just when I thought I already unlock the mystery, the story just keeps on proving me wrong and it played a bit of a trick with my mind.

The story also has lots of great big plot twists that shocked me! As I said in the earlier paragraphs, there are lots of secrets being buried for years and that secrets has secrets in it, which interest me more. All the twists and turns made it hard for me to believe which one is real and which one is not. So many things I didn’t see coming which was good, because if I see it coming then it means the story is predictable and there will be not enough surprises to surprise me. I was glad that the author write the story to be so unpredictable, that wasn’t just good writing, but it was a brilliant writing. Even with all the plot twists, the story has a very smooth flow, no bumpy road at all, and everything make sense. I know for some people it might be hard to understand some of the things that occurred in the story, but just be patient with it, you’ll get to understand the whole thing once you get to the point where everything was revealed and all the secrets are out in the world. I’m happy that I didn’t get a hard time trying to understand the whole concept. The dialogues were all good and all the characters get to have amazing dialogues that fit with their characters and the situations they’re in, it’s not cheesy at all.

This book has so many actions, and all of it was very intense. Trying to write a big fight scene that involved lots of magic is hard, but the author knew how to do it right and how to write it properly. I was amazed by how amazing all the fight scenes were, especially the one where all the royalties were involved and all of them fought the main villain, that will go down as one the most epic magic battle in history. Also, Asterin and her friends using each of their elemental magic to fight the villain, that was pure awesomeness. I was afraid the whole time, because I was worried for them since the villain has a lot of experience compared to them, but they managed to handle it. I have so much respect for Asterin and her friends, despite having to suffer afterward, they are still the winner.

So much was happening at once, and the situation alone scared me to death! In a story like this, there will be a lot of intense actions which isn’t so surprising but what make it a huge surprise was how well-written those action scenes were. The characters that get involved in the battle (especially the members in the good team) are experienced fighters, even though they were still young. They don’t just magically know how to fight, it took them years to train how to become a great fighter and it was worth it in the end. Their skills are what make the whole fight scenes so enjoyable to witnessed, at least we get to see how much power do they possess and how big are their strengths. The actions in this book are on the professional level, it really took my breath away!

I appreciate the multiple POVs, making it easy for readers to connect more with each of the main characters. Asterin, Quinlan, Rose, Orion, Luna, Eadric, and Harry, these characters each gets their own chapters where we as the readers can access their mind and see how they view the whole things and what they think about the current situations in their head. The multiple POVs also help me learned a lot about each of these characters and also I get to witnessed their backstory. It was better that way than just a single POV, at least with multiple POVs there are a lot of things I discovered from some characters that the other characters can’t find.

Without the multiple POVs, I might not be able to see how the other characters (aside from Asterin) life was like before they all come to Axaria. Each of the characters has great and strong backstory, it showed how each of them has suffered differently in their lives and what type of treatments they got when they were young. By having multiple POVs in the story also make me understand the choices these characters has to make in order to save the lives of other people, and also it helps me see their intention clearly and how they approach certain situations they’re in, whether it was dangerous or not. I really loved the whole multiple POVs concept.

I liked the pacing of the story. It was a very fast-paced story which makes my reading experience more enjoyable than it already is. Any books with a fast-paced stories are automatically added into the list of my favorite books (only the one that weren’t rushed). Some books that has fast-paced stories doesn’t do well due to everything were rushed, but Shadow Frost is different. Even with its fast-pacing, it wasn’t rushed at all, things went smoothly and the story make a lot of sense, which is why this one is my favorite book of 2019 so far. The pacing makes it all better because everything are straight to the point, and there are no filler contents at all.

Not only the pacing was fine, but the author also knew how to balance the tone of the story. The story has two different tones, light and dark. Books like this that has lots of intense battle especially when magic is involved, of course you expect bloods are being spilled left and right, and the tone is dark. But, this book managed to balance both light and dark, there are some funny and hilarious moments that cracked me up, and also moments that made me sad and heartbroken. It has always been hard to balance the light and dark in a fantasy story, but this book just seems like it doesn’t have any struggles at all. I truly appreciate the hilarious moments, at least it brings a light into a darker story full of deaths. It’s not hurt wanting to have a little laugh, being serious all the time must be so exhausting and definitely stressful.

The ending was bittersweet. I was sad for what happened to everyone, but I cried so hard for Asterin the most. She did what she could, and it was sad to see her being alone and feeling so lonely. Her friends also has their own journey and they also want to continue living their lives, and Asterin has a bigger duty and responsibility now, so it was understandable why the story ended the way it did. I just hope they get to be back again as a group and going on a new adventure. Here’s hoping the sequel will mend my broken heart after that ending. The ending also set up so many new things for the sequel, and there are some unanswered questions that still needed to be answered. I hope the sequel will address it. The ending was not what I expected at all, the path the author chose to end the story was so surprising to me and I feel a bit disappointed because I was hoping for a bit of a happy ending, even though I knew it was too good to be true. After that ending, I admit I was a little scared of what will happen in the next installment, but I trust the author to bring the gang back together. As much as the ending was one I’m not rooting for, but I have to say that it does leave a bit of mystery surrounding the final scene.

The characters in this book are so likable, even the villain was surprisingly good. We get to meet Asterin (the main protagonist), Quinlan, Rose, Luna, Eadric, Orion, Harry, Prisiclla, and Garringsford. These are the main characters in the story, and I get to know what are their connections with Asterin since this is her story. I never read anything like this before where all the main characters are consistent because they were written so well. The consistency remain strong, and the author basically did an incredible work by giving these characters their own chapters where we get to see the situation through their own POVs, and also by giving these characters their own story arc even though the book is about Asterin, and lastly, I loved that the author gave these characters a better development.

We get to see the backstory of these characters and how their past lead them to where they are now. It was an epic journey to be able to read and learn more about these amazing characters through their own chapters. These characters are all equal, nobody is powerful than the other, all of them are strong and powerful—not just in terms of power and strength, but also their cleverness. All of them are so unique in their own way, we get to see what type of magic they wield, and how intelligent they are when it comes to making plans, which is so surprising to me because all of them are very clever—especially Asterin and her companions. Each of them contribute something important to the story, none of them are useless. I was glad that I read this book, it introduced me to this whole new world with a big, great and incredible characters in it.

As for the villain, well…this one can get a bit complicated due to the fact that the villain’s identity was still unclear in the beginning up until the final few chapters. The demon was supposed to be the main villain because it terrorized a lot of people, and the thing with the demon has a twist which was a huge surprise, but it was an amazing twist that I didn’t even see coming. I was shocked to find the main villain is actually the character that I didn’t expect to be a villain at all. The reveal was a jaw-dropping moment, but then after learning the truth, it make sense why the author chose to go for the ‘non-suspicious’ type to be the main villain. The author surely knows how to do it right, she knows how to make her readers keep on guessing who the villain is. That was a clever move on the author’s part. Also, the motive of the villain really make a lot of sense. I get to learn what make the villain so evil and sinister and why they did what they did. The villain had a strong motive, and also I get to know what connection they shared with some of the characters and why they particularly targeted Asterin.

Asterin is the most fierce royal princess. She’s everything I hope for in a female protagonist. She was so strong and powerful, and she knew how to fight so well. Most books have their female protagonist to be so strong and powerful all of a sudden because they were the “chosen one,” which is very unrealistic to me, I mean…they never fight, hold a weapon, or wield any magic before and suddenly they become someone who can fight and is all powerful. But this book is unique and very different. Asterin isn’t just someone who can fight and become powerful so suddenly, she started her training since she was still a little kid, she always trained with her guardian on how to fight, how to use a sword, and how to wield her own magic. To me that part is very necessary to include in the story, at least I knew where she got all the skills and that she had a proper training all those years. She has a lot of potential and the author didn’t waste it at all, I’m happy to see the good development the author gave Asterin’s character. She is the best female protagonist and I enjoyed learning about her backstory and knowing the reasons why she is so important.

Quinlan is so amazing! He’s the most powerful magic wielder in the story, he even taught Asterin how to wield all of her magic without any struggles. He doesn’t just become the most powerful all of a sudden, just like Asterin he has a lot of training to do all those years ago. His heartbreaking backstory revealed so much about his life, and how he came to learn about his magic and how he was trying to use it and control it on his own. I feel sad for him the most, he suffered just as much as the other characters but his past was very brutal compared to the others, all those scars just shows how much he has suffered and survived. He’s more of the quiet one out of everyone, he was only talkative around Asterin. I appreciate him for doing his best to protect and help Asterin and for what he did to help their group. Honestly, without him, the rest may not know when they were gonna get attacked. Also, I get to know what kind of struggles he was facing and what was the thing he was afraid of the most. He’s an amazing character and he keeps on getting a lot better later on, and most importantly he cares about everyone and always looking out for everyone’s safety.

Rose is also a great character, she’s pretty badass just like Asterin, and even though her magic isn’t the same as Quinlan and Asterin and not as powerful as those two, Rose is also a very helpful person and basically can handle her own in a fight. She also had training before, so it’s not like she is weak, she’s better than that. Rose’s secret identity was the first thing that shocked me. She doesn’t do much, aside from trying to help others who were injured and making a plan with Asterin and Luna on how to trap the demon they were after. She has a big responsibility just like Asterin, and I really want to see what that is in the sequel. And maybe, we can visit Eradore in the next book since that’s where she came from. Her backstory revealed a little bit about her but I was happy to learn what her life was like before she arrived in Axaria.

Luna is totally different. She’s not as weak as I thought, she appeared weak at first in the book for the majority of it, but the moment the truth came out and she found out what actually happened to her in the past, things with her changed so fast. She doesn’t have magic at first, but suddenly she reached out to it and finally got it, that was after she learned what truly happened to her. I was shocked finding out all the secrets that has been buried for years. I had a hard time trying to warm up to her character, especially when she constantly complaining that she was useless because she doesn’t have magic like the rest in the group. She doesn’t need to have magic to be useful, she can still help others even without having any powers. The moment she embraced her magic, I was scared she might somehow betray Asterin and the group because of her past. I was happy the author didn’t go down that road because it was so overdone in other books. The ending makes me feel like she might either still be friends with Asterin or just completely hate her and continue to stay bitter due to the choice that Asterin made. I understood why she was mad and bitter about that, because it was like a betrayal to her, but she can’t expect Asterin to listen to her all the time, let the girl make her own choices and finally do things on her own without others telling her what she can and cannot do. I hope Luna will get a good development for her character in the next book and even though I pity her at times, it was hard for me to like her character, so maybe the sequel might change it.

Orion is truly a gem, he was so funny and probably the funniest of the group (Quinlan too sometimes). His backstory revealed how he become Asterin’s protector. He was the person who trained her all those years and also the one who always help her. He also has magic, and his power sometimes makes him doubt himself when it comes to protecting Asterin from a great danger. Sometimes he always had a thought that he failed to protect her, and that he might not be able to protect her at all. He struggles with that a lot, but he tried his best to always be there for her. I was afraid he might leave the group due to him having a self-doubt most of the times, but glad he didn’t. He also showed that he wasn’t confident when it comes to using his own magic, and it took him a while to be able to embrace it. The ending makes me worried about his safety, I’m nervous to know what happens to him next.

Eadric and Harry, I don’t have much to say about these two. They are the opposite of Quinlan and Orion. Eadric has always been so suspicious of newbies, he always stays alert and aware of so many things. What’s great about his character was how he didn’t show his weakness like the other characters, how he doesn’t always cracking up some jokes like the others do, and lastly he always put on a serious face. I hardly see him smile or laugh, it was very rare. Eadric is awesome and his backstory explains a lot on how he came to the Axarian palace and become the captain of Asterin’s elite guards. He was always ready for any attacks and always prepare himself. He does have magic too, but he doesn’t use it often. I want to see the progress of his character in the next installment.

As for Harry, he was truly the unexpected one. No one knows who he truly is. Aside from the reveal of Rose’s true identity, the truth about Harry really shocked me. I didn’t expect to find out he’s not who everyone thought he is, he’s not actually evil which was a relief, but still the truth makes everyone wary to trust him. I suspected him to be far more different than the rest of the group from the first time Asterin described how different the trees and grasses acted around him when he was making his way to the forest. Harry’s backstory showed how he become what he’d become and what type of magic do he possessed (which is very different from the other characters), and also it showed that he is actually a kind person with a good heart but things went sideways for him. I was happy knowing he wasn’t evil and that his loyalty is to Asterin and their group of friends.

Priscilla was a very complex character. She’s just like Harry, there was a similarity between these two (in terms of their magic), but there was also a big differences. She came off as someone who is very controlling. She treated Asterin harshly, and she was never proud of Asterin, which saddens me. Asterin needed love from her own family after what happened to her father, but Priscilla was being too cold to her. The final few chapters explain everything that happened to her, Asterin and Luna. Priscilla’s own backstory played a huge part, it shows how she came to live in the Axarian palace, and how she get so close to Asterin and what was her connection with Luna. The author knows how to set up Priscila’s character to be the unexpected one. She doesn’t play a huge part in the story at first, but the moment everything came out and the group figured out all the missing pieces, that was the moment I get to see how big is Priscilla’s role in the story. The ending was still unclear for her character, either we see her again or not.

I loved seeing the friendship between Asterin, Luna, and Rose. These three girls are so clever and they made an incredible plan together. I was happy seeing how much their friendship has grown in the story. Asterin and Luna has been best friends for years, but Asterin’s decision cost her her friendship with Luna, and I’m not sure if they were able to reconcile after that. These three are like sisters, I’m hoping to see these badass ladies coming back stronger in the sequel. Also, the group has 7 members altogether; Asterin, Quinlan, Rose, Luna, Orion, Eadric, and Harry, and these people are so much fun to hang out with. The whole story focused on their journey to slay a demon to staying at a place together where they can get to know each other much better and just having some fun moments like making jokes, throwing banters, and just doing houseworks while also focusing on their mission to find the demon, tracking it down and practicing their magic skills.

The hilarious moments has always been between Orion, Asterin, and Quinlan. These characters also bring a lot of balance to the tone of the story. You can’t just have a great story like this without adding some funny moments to light up the story a little bit. I enjoyed seeing them joking around and just make each other’s laugh, because they may never know if they will survive the battle against the villain, so might as well enjoy all the precious time they have together. The ending for these characters are so bittersweet, I felt a little bit happy and relief but was also sad that it ended that way. I hope the next book will bring this fierce gang back together, Asterin might need their help again and seeing her feeling so alone even after everything the’ve been through together hurt me so bad. I know each of them have a life to live and each of them have their own responsibility and duty to do, but I hope they will come back again as a group when a new threat is coming.

The romance in this book was great. I loved the pairings that they author choose. I feel bad for Rose, she’s like the 7th wheeler of the group, no wonder she was annoyed half of the time when the others started flirting with one another. She was so over it! The relationship that has a lot of focus is obviously the one that Asterin is involved in. She and Quinlan has great chemistry and they shared a deep connection that they didn’t have with the others. I knew they would somehow ends up together, but I didn’t know it took them that long. Their romance is more of a slow-burn type, they often teased each other, especially Quinlan did the teasing a lot. These two has a big Rhysand and Feyre energy (from the ACOTAR series). The slow-burn really fits them, it was a long process but the build up wasn’t disappointing at all. That’s why I love a slow-burn romance, the process helps a lot in building up the relationship to be epic and it also helps develop two characters and their connection and chemistry with each other and make it more realistic, instead of just rush things out and the outcome of the relationship doesn’t make sense and it didn’t look so convincing. Asterin and Quinlan truly meant to be together. I loved these two so much. I hope to see more of their sweet and romantic moments in the sequel.

The story was excellent, the book is truly the best. Can we please appreciate the simple and yet beautiful cover, after finishing the book, I understood the meaning of the cover and what connection it has with the storyline. You’ll be surprise when you find out! Even I was like “Ooh…so that’s what the cover means.” It’s a perfect book, not too long and not too short either. I highly recommend this book if you love so many great, strong and equal characters, high quality and original story with big plot twists. I’m looking forward to read the sequel, and also to see where the author takes the story next and what she has in store for the main characters. It was an incredible story, what a joy and amazing experience it is for me to read this book and follow the epic journey of the characters in it.

see you soon

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