Title: BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN
Series: FROZEN SUN SAGA #1
Author: JILL CRISWELL
Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY
Publication Date: AUGUST 6, 2019
ABOUT THE BOOK
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland—one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun—Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.
As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.
I didn’t know how to explain my deep love for this book! This book was brilliant in so many ways. I didn’t expect it to be so good, I didn’t had a high expectation of it, but I was glad it didn’t disappoint me at all. Even though I already read it, I would definitely buy the physical copy of this book. This is one of the best YA-Fantasy book that comes out this year.
This book tells a story of a young man named Reyker, and a young woman named Lira and their journey on trying to save each other from the greater evil. These two embarks on a long journey of survival. They both wanted to help each other and save one another’s life, but lots of tough challenges stand in their way and they had to fight harder if they want to survive the whole thing. While trying to find a safe place to hide, they also learned a lot about the gods and goddesses that try to meddle in humans’ business and complicate things more, and they found out what connection does the gods and goddesses has with them and why they are the main target of their enemies.
It was an incredibly well-plotted story. I loved the plot and the twists that comes with it. The twists made this book so unpredictable, there are so many things that I didn’t see coming. The twists mainly plays a part on certain characters; their motives, their true identities etc. I was left speechless when I found out the truth about some characters. It was truly the most shocking moments learning about the things they hide the whole time. Just when I thought things are slowing down, another twist came up!
There was also twists with the whole gods and the war and conflict that happened ages ago with the gods, it was another thing that surprised me when reading this book. Not that I’m tired of it, I truly enjoyed it but my mind needed a break to process what just happened. I think it was a clever move on the author’s part for making this book so unpredictable and putting a lot of huge surprises for the readers. The plot was fine and so does the storyline. It was a very well-written and well-crafted story with no bumpy roads in it. I did find some parts to be hard to understand, but once I repeat back those parts that I wasn’t clear about, I finally understood it. Also, the whole thing make a lot of sense, especially the one with Reyker and Lira and the people who tried to get in their way. Trust issues also play a major part in the story, you can’t trust anyone in this book, I was so wary of trusting new or old characters, I can only trust Reyker and Lira since these two are like the only ones who doesn’t have any involvement with the villain.
There are dual POVs for this one which are from Lira and Reyker—well because this is their story, so it make sense! For the majority of the story, Lira gets a lot of chapters while Reyker only get a few chapters for him to tell everything through his own POV. As much as I was a bit disappointed by the amount of chapter Reyker gets, I was still feeling thankful that at least he gets his own POV because for the most part, I don’t know what he was thinking or what he felt about the whole situation, so by getting a small amount of chapters for him to tell everything in his own POV makes me feel a bit satisfied, at least I get to discover his thoughts.
Aside from that, these two were given a great dialogues throughout the whole book, but on the first few chapters, I was so frustrated by their communication. Lira gets a good English dialogues for her part, but when Reyker replied whatever she was saying, it was in a different language that I don’t even know exist. Plus, they are no translation given afterward, so I just had to get a clue of what he was saying through Lira’s replies. I felt so relief it didn’t continue that way for the rest of the story. Apparently in the story Reyker can speak the same language as Lira but he doesn’t at first.
The magic system was unique in its own way even though this wasn’t the first book where the magical abilities/special gifts came from the gods and goddesses. I really dig the whole gods and goddesses and the god-gifted abilities concept that the author used in the story. For example, Lira is a young woman with a god-gifted ability and it came from the goddess Aillira. There are other old and young women like her and they were called as Aillira’s daughter because all of their abilities came from Aillira, but all of them possessed a different abilities from one another. Their abilities aren’t like in most books where someone who can wield magic can shoot things from their hands using their magical powers, the one that was shown in this book is very different but still unique. I liked how the author explain everything in detail without leaving out anything, so trying to understand the whole concept won’t be as hard and complicated as I thought at first.
This story had a very non-stop actions. I was so satisfied by the amount of battles in this book. There are so many fights everywhere, huge battle left and right and it literally made me nervous the whole time. The feeling was intense, I was glued to my sit reading the whole battle parts. It gave me lots of mixed emotions, I was scared and afraid, but also nervous. I didn’t know how to calm down because the whole thing happened so fast and the battle was very deadly. It wasn’t a magic battle or anything, it was basically a battle to kidnapped all the god-gifted women and the battle is started by the ruthless dragon-lord with the help of the evil god and goddess. The non-stop actions was the most intense thing to ever happened in the story, making the pacing of this book to be so fast.
The world-building was so breathtaking! It was very well-developed and I didn’t find anything lacking with it. Majority of the story took place in Glasnith and mostly it was in Stony Harbor which is part of Glasnith. There was also a mention of other places like Iseneld and the Ghost Village etc., and even when I really want the story to show what Iseneld looks like I know it won’t have the time to do so due to the whole battle going around, so maybe the sequel will show more of Iseneld. What I really loved the most is the Ghost Village, the setting of that place was so mesmerizing and I pictured it as the magical place full of bright colors and sparkling lights. It was described as the most peaceful and beautiful place so for now the Ghost Village is the safest place and maybe Iseneld will be the second safest place. There wasn’t much description about what Iseneld looks like so I can’t picture anything about that place yet.
There was also a mention about the different culture and tradition the people from both Stony Harbor and Ghost Village follows. There are so many differences coming from these two clans. The people of Stony Harbor has different lifestyle compared to the people of Ghost Village. Stony Harbor has become a dangerous place afterward hence the reason why I said Ghost Village is the safest place due to it has so many rules and the people there follows it without complaining. The way these two clans celebrating some festivals was also different from one another. In so many ways, Ghost Village is a lot special. Also, the prince of the village…after learning about who the prince was, I’m not sure how to feel about it. I was happy that he’s alive but also, I don’t see how it make sense for him to be the prince.
Reyker and Lira are the hero and heroine of the story. Lira is a young woman with a god-gifted ability and is one of Aillira’s Daughter. Her ability is to read people’s souls hence the reason why her people called her “soul-reader.” Her being one of Aillira’s Daughter is the reason why she become the main target of the villain. There was a little flashback scene that showed how Lira and Reyker met years ago and how the dragon-lord knew about her. She went through a lot in this book, and even though Reyker has been protecting her, she also can defend herself against any threats but of course she’s nowhere near Reyker’s level. She wasn’t a damsel in distress, she always have a weapon with her wherever she go. She helps Reyker a lot in the beginning of the story, and cares about his well-being. She did a lot of sacrifices in order to help Reyker stay alive. She’s not easily scared of anything because she has always been so brave. Her bravery always help her but it also landed her on the wrong path making it easy for the villain to track her down. She always make good decisions, but those decisions always put her in a great danger and Reyker got dragged along with it.
I liked her personality, she’s a smart girl, she is brave and is a fast-thinker and she always act quickly before anyone can catch her. She’s a great heroine even when she can be a bit irritating sometimes. Lira isn’t a perfect heroine, she does have lots of flaws, but the more time she remembered about her mistakes, the more she tried to be better and improved herself. I wish her character gets a great development in the sequel, I feel like the one she got in this book wasn’t enough. And the last part when she got her newfound power, I hope she would use that power a lot in the sequel and train how to use it or learn how to control it.
Reyker is a young man who protected Lira and vowed to always make sure she was safe all the time. He is a human just like Lira, but in the book people called him “the beast” and “the Westlander” due to where he came from. He is a very complex character, he wasn’t good but he wasn’t evil either. He has a great character development in the story and he has a lot of potential too. So I hope it won’t go to waste in the next book. He might look scary from the outside, but on the inside he just want to have peace and stay away from all the nightmarish things the dragon-lord did to him in the past. He had to bury all the happy memories he had of his mother because he doesn’t want others to know that he is actually a good person deep inside, but Lira and her ability had a way to uncover all of it hence the reason why she’s not afraid of him, and accepted him for who he is. All the pain he had to endure his whole life only make him stronger and make him focused on one thing: to defeat the dragon-lord. He is a great character, he doesn’t break and doesn’t show his weakness so easily. He’d been through a lot of hell in this book but he still survived and he will fight even harder after that ending.
Also Garreth and Quinlan, my two favorite side characters. These two are the only people who can help Lira and Reyker, I know they do have their own duties but I hope to see them interact with Lira and Reyker more and see them in action again, since they didn’t get involved in much fights/battles in this book. Garreth is Lira’s older brother and I was happy to know he was doing well despite what happened to him in the middle of the book, but something about where he was just doesn’t add up. How did he even get there? Does his father and his uncle knew about his whereabout? I want to see more of that in the sequel, after all he and Lira has a lot of catching up to do. Garreth needs to appear more in the next book and I hope he gets to join a fight against the evil that put him in his current situation.
As for Quinlan, he can be a bit funny too and I’m glad he’s the only friend of Lira who wants to help her and doesn’t judge her for being in a relationship with Reyker. I was afraid things will turn into a love triangle since Quinlan likes Lira, but then Lira and Reyker is in a relationship. I don’t want to see any drama happening because of two men fighting over a woman, it’s getting old. I was glad they come to an understanding and agreement that Quinlan will always help Lira and Reyker as a friend. For the majority of the story, Quinlan get to live a peaceful life far away from all the chaos that attacking the other characters, must be nice to be him. I want to see his reaction toward the whole chaotic things that happened at the last few chapters in the book, and also I hope to see him more in the sequel as in seeing him helping Reyker, Lira, and Garreth in case they don’t have a place to live. Garreth and Quinlan should appear more in the next book since Lira and Reyker doesn’t have anyone on their side in this one.
The main villain in this book is totally the most ruthless villain. There are other side villains too, but they doesn’t do much damage as the main villain did. The main villain which is the dragon-lord named Draki is the most dangerous, ruthless, and disgusting person. He basically sacrificed his soul to become a god. No wonder he can’t be redeem, but then again he doesn’t deserve to get a redemption arc after all the things he did to the poor innocent souls; whether they are children, men or women. What he did to all those poor women, especially the one with a god-gifted ability was very disgusting. I was afraid of what he might do to Lira if he caught her. I was nervous and afraid the whole time, because I don’t want the book to end where Draki caught Lira and I am left with my own thoughts thinking about Lira’s fate. I was just glad the author didn’t go for that route.
Draki is a well-written villain, even though I hate him, I have to admit that he is a great villain. The author managed to make him look so scary and describing him to be the most powerful and evil person. Draki also has a strong motive of his own that makes him more scarier than he already is. But I don’t find his motive to be interesting at all, I do acknowledge how clever he was at planning everything and managed to succeed in his missions, but then again him killing innocent people, marking the Aillira’s Daughter, taking them and then kill them after he finished using them, all of that for him to conquer a lot of territories and finally be a god? I don’t find that interesting at all. It has been done a lot of times in other books. What Draki did is to make others afraid of him and that’s what make him the scariest villain. I don’t know how Reyker and Lira will be able to defeat him, after seeing his little fight with Reyker at the end there, I realized that Draki is not a joke, it might take a long time for anyone to be able to kill him. There is so much to learn about him, but what he revealed to Reyker at the end truly surprised me! I was still unsure on who Draki actually is, his true identity shocked me to the point I don’t know what to think anymore. Best just wait until the sequel to find out the complete story about who he really is. As for the side villains, they are just people who are greedy for powers and high position, and even willing to betray their own family so there is no surprise about that.
There wasn’t too much romance but not too less either, the amount was just perfect for this kind of story. It doesn’t overshadow the plot and the story at all, the romance is like a side thing in this book. The slow-burn to make Lira and Reyker get together was a very long process, these two doesn’t hate one another, both of them just had a hard time trying to trust one another due to the situation they’re in. I loved that even after all those years ago, Reyker still remembered Lira—the girl whose life he saved. She is like the light to his darkness. Also, Lira did remember him, and that’s what made her trust him. These two, even though they are both from different place, both are the opposite of each other in so many ways, they still fit together. They fought harder to protect each other’s lives, and they are the definition of “power couple.” The hell they had to go through the whole time make me scared for their fate, I don’t even know whether they will survive everything that stands in their way.
That ending really broke me. I was screaming because of the frustration I felt. They already had people wanting them dead, they can’t even have a peaceful day where no one hunts them, and to have that ending happened to them was really frustrating and very heartbreaking. If only Reyker jump into the sea then maybe it won’t be so heartbreaking after all. Things are getting complicated and I hated where it was going. Too many challenges for them to face and I’m sure they’ll get back stronger to face the world that try to separate them in the next book. Their little happy and sweet moments was truly beautiful, their bond grew stronger the more time they spent together and I’m happy that there was no love triangle at all. Lira and Reyker truly belong together. I don’t want to think what will happen to them in the sequel, I’m afraid to even think about it, but let me just say this, their love story mirrored the legendary love story of Veronis and Aillira, and after finding out the fate of Veronis and Aillira’s, I don’t want that same fate happens to Lira and Reyker.
I have lots of theory about the sequel, but I rather keep it to myself for now! This book was very intense and it glued me to my seat. I enjoyed the non-stop actions, the whole story, the romance between Lira and Reyker, but the plot twists was the best shocking and jaw-dropping moments that truly make this story more interesting because it keeps me going. It was a great, amazing and gripping page-turner story full of great surprises. Also, if you love the Viking culture then you will love this book for sure. It does have a little bit of Viking thing which makes me love this book more than I already did. I’m looking forward to see the next journey of Lira and Reyker. These two are the best; Reyker is a badass fighter who cheated death many times, and then we have our lovely heroine Lira who is a kickass girl with a god-gifted ability and will definitely punch you if you try to take away her weapon. I can’t wait to see them again in the sequel!
Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).