Cover Image: Shadow Frost

Shadow Frost

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Member Reviews

Amazing plot, great characters and wonderful writing. I absolutely love this book. It was hyped but it totally deserved the hype!!! I recommend it.
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Thank you for the publisher and NetGalley for the copy of Shadow Frost by Coco Ma for review. 
For a debut novel by a young writer this was a solid attempt but it could still use some work. 
I enjoyed the first part of the book although there wasn’t a lot new to the genre of YA fantasy. All the characters were fine and fairly enjoyable including the MC. There wasn’t anything problematic or awful with the plot but sadly it became very ho-hum by the middle and lost momentum. I was confused by the addition of modern day slang like “my bad”, clothing like boxer briefs alongside of horse drawn carriages and a magical world that wasn’t earthly in any way. There also seemed to be an attempt to pair up all the characters romantically which I always find unnecessary. There was a relationship that fell apart at the end and the manner in which it did was very thought provoking and original. 
Three stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
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I DNFed it at 30%, I just coul'dn't delve deeper, I'm so incredibly sorry. I couldn't -even remotely- connect to any of the characters or parts of the story itself. The world, at least to the extent that I read, was enjoybable and the fantastical elements quite original, but I felt like something was missing.

Coco Ma's writing style was quite good, though, and I'll definitely keep an eye on her books in the future. I don't think it's a bad book at all, on the contrary I believe it has all the pieces that a fantasy lover seeks in their book hunts. It just wasn't my cup of tea. Two out of five stars, and I'm giving them with a heavy heart.
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DNF @ 30%

Many thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for an eARC in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Before I say anything about this book, can we just stop and appreciate this author for a minute? I found out the author wrote this at 15, and at 19, she had Shadow Frost, her debut novel, published … and can we just take a moment to appreciate how freaking awesome that is? Writing is hard. Publishing is even harder. Following your dreams is … pffft. *grumbles about being an adult and needing a drink* So to be able to accomplish all this is a huge feat and definitely one to be applauded. I mean, that being said … this reads like a book written by a 15-year-old, unfortunately. But there are definite gems in the writing that mean I’ll be watching out for more of Coco Ma’s work, because I think she has all the potential to write a great book … this just isn’t it. Not yet.

The prologue of this book was freaking great. Talk about starting on a high point. If the rest of the story had been written like the prologue, this would easily have been a five-star book. It was mysterious and dark, hinting at greater things to come, but really just set up a tone so well. A tone which, unfortunately, the rest of the book didn’t quite live up to, but when I first picked it up and read the prologue, I was so ready to dive into the book after that.

There are a LOT of cliche YA tropes. If that’s your thing, you might enjoy this. For me, though, it was a little too predictable and like a typical YA fantasy quest book. There was nothing particularly new or stand-out-ish about this. The tropes weren't used in new and unique ways. It felt very run-of-the-mill and pretty much everything that would pop into your head with a stereotypical YA quest story.

The first 15%-ish of the book is really sort of slow and not much happens, and then a quest sort of smacks the reader in the face suddenly out of nowhere, with absolutely no build-up. It was really nothing, nothing, here go on this dangerous quest that might claim your lives but I'm sure you'll be fine. Most of the beginning of the story is actually spent in Asterin's room, with lots of exposition and backstory.

I loved the banter, and it never ceased to make me chuckle. Now, is it unrealistic, given the characters and the setting? I’d say so, yes. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I simply enjoyed it. It was fun and a bit of lightheartedness in an otherwise darker story.

None of these characters seem to act appropriately to their station, and where this comes up the most, in my opinion, is in regards to how they treat the princess. Quinlan calls the princess “brat” and it’s so inappropriate and off-putting that I sort of cringed every time. They show up in her bedroom when she’s half-dressed. They speak to her as friends, tease her, call her names, etc. It sort of ruins the setting for me, because they seem more like modern-day teenagers than people in a Feudal-esque setting where there’s clear demarcation between classes.

Asterin has really terrible ideas, but attempts to pass them off as brilliant. And they just … aren’t. Like there’s this horrible monster killing people, and I need to assemble a small army to face it. Who should I take? Oh, I know, my best friend who can’t fight or do magic! This will be great!

The romance is so … awkward. There’s two guys vying for Asterin’s attention, because of course there is, and Asterin has noticed them both. With one, though, they are clearly flirting. A princess and her guard. Openly flirting. Like this is a normal thing. In such painfully obvious, very teenager ways that made me sort of cringe. I mean, we’ve all done this, I feel like, because we’ve unfortunately all been teenagers (and survived, thankfully … unless you’re a ghost, in which case … sorry, man. Teen years can be hard).

There’s a lot of points of view (and thus, point of view shifting), and I’m not sure the story really needed to be told by this many perspectives. A couple maybe, sure, but the voices weren’t distinct at all, and it was a bit confusing and disorienting when it switched point of view and it wasn’t obvious it had … and that happened pretty often.
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This book had some really fun parts and I think the world building was well done. It's such an interesting world! But, overall, it wasn't quite what I was hoping for.

First there was the characters. For the first part of the book, most of the characters annoyed me. I could see glimmers of things I liked, so I kept reading, but it was hard to stay invested when I didn't like the characters all that much. They all seemed a bit whiny. As the book progressed, I started liking them more and more though. For the most part, they all grew on me. I did appreciate the plethora of snark and sass they all dished out.

I think the pacing was a bit off with this too. At first, things seemed to move painfully slow and then it felt like the plot was speeding up, only to have it slow down once more. Then at the end, I think things were a little too rushed. I enjoyed the story for the most part, but I wish the pacing would have been a little more consistent.

This is such a rich and dynamic world. I really enjoyed learning about it and seeing the characters interact with the world. While I had some frustrations, I did ultimately have a good time reading this book.
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My Rating : 3.75
Thankyou so much Netgalley for providing the e-arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.
This book follows our main squad of characters : Our oblivious yet sassy princess Asterin, her bro/bodyguard Orion who is a total buttercup sweetness, her bestie/lady in waiting Luna who is fiercely loyal and strong, (Not to forget the two new warrior royals who wants to protect her at all cost) her royal warrior queen Rose who has the best dialogues and is really witty, her magic guru/CRUSH Quinlin who is a package and a perfect BF material for her reallyy , and FINALLYY my darling bae Harry who is actually a demon but such a goofball, loyal to the squad and is my favorite character in this whole book really.
First of all, let's talk about the different characters introduced and followed. I wouldn't call them the best squad, but they were an amazing group of friends with varying character traits. Harry is my absolute favorite and I will fight y'all if you say so otherwise. The character development he gets through the course of this book is amazing and it's so heart breaking to read about his background and his story. The other characters were complimenting to one another and really made this book better. The magic system is element based, and they kind of have a catalyst in the form of stones to harness their power. I am a really big fan of elemental magic and it was quite nice to read about the system.
Second of all, the plot line of this book was a little cliched and it's nothing we haven't seen in any YA fantasy book and of course predictable. But what made this really different was the multiple perspective of all the characters involved in any important scene and how it affected everybody. The pacing was quite slow at the start of this book, but it kept me going because I was already in love with the side characters more than the main characters and wanted to find more about them.
With that being said, The dialogues were a little choppy and incoherent at times and felt awkward to actually play the scene out in your head, but as long as you aren't keen on sentence formation, you could enjoy the story. At times you get confused slightly to why certain scenes are happening and figure out the reason later. I was slightly annoyed with that, but it didn't hinder the plot. I would have liked there to be more character development for the whole squad and would have loved to know more about the kingdom and the magic system in general. We get the present happenings of them all, but a bit of history would have helped this book a lot more.
Overall, I absolutely loved the side characters more than the main ones ( Especially Orion and Harry.. what can I say? I would marry Harry in a heartbeat. Who wouldn't? And they are the most adorably handsome fierce strong characters that kept me focused on reading this book). The plotline is not very unique but it gave an interesting twist in the perspective and the ending was absolutely devastating to read. I really wish things gets resolved in the second book because my little heart is slightly breaking because certain things happened and I don't want them to stay that way. It's a solid fantasy read if you overlook the overused plotline, cliched story, slightly awkward dialogues at times and predictable plot twists. I would definitely recommend this book IF you don't mind the above list.
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I just can't believe, that I haven't read this earlier!
It felt so much like a Sarah J. Maas Book - and yes thats a great thing! I loved every minute in this world and devoured the book in one day, because the puns were perfect and the magical world even more so.
Just the idea of having several different magical abilities in the elemental area, and that you are more gifted, if you can manage more elements made me fall in love with the book immediately.
The storyline was super exciting and I just couldn't stop reading, because I needed to know If I am right with my ideas, but Coco Ma is a master of twists and turns and also writes the most relatable villains, so some ideas were soo wrong and thats where the author wanted to lead us!

Let us come to the humor. I LOVED Quinley and Asterin and can't wait for more of this super sarcastic and strong duo. I just live for their kind of communication and have laughed out loud quiet often while reading! We also have some LGBTQ characters and a great monster. We have super cool magical powers and cute relationships, that I adored. Everyone was just perfect for me and made me forget reality for some time. In the end I ended up liking nearly every single character and now don't want to wait for book two. This author just became an auto buy author for me.
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I wanted desperately  to enjoy this more than I did sadly. It was very middle of the road for me. Predictable in most of the plot points to the point that it was no longer enjoyable, and constant tropes that we've seen 100 times before without bringing anything original to them to make them worthwhile to add. 

I didn't care much for the characters, the plot, or anything that was really happening, and that made it hard to care for the book itself sadly.
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SO SO SO good! I seriously loved this book and will buy the next one (and the first) if you want a great romance book with fantastic plot and magical system then you need to read this book!
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There is so much that I wanted to love about Shadow Frost. A young author! A powerful princess hunting a demon! An amazing cover!

And yet…

I had to DNF this one. I stopped about 10% of the way in.

I just wasn’t connecting to the characters or the story. There was nothing that really hooked me from the get go, and I was honestly a little bored. Things felt flat; both characters and worldbuilding alike.

Maybe it was me, and maybe it was the book. But Shadow Frost was a let down and the hype and premise and cover alone wasn’t enough to keep me tethered to it.
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Pretty badass debut book! As the first of the series, I am excited to see what comes next. I love fantasy books and Shadow Frost was definitely enjoyable. How can you not love a fantasy book about a badass sassy princess who just kicks ass constantly?
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First, the good stuff.

I loved the whole premise of this book. Most people in this world have special powers, called affinities, that they control with the use of affinity stones (not to be confused with infinity stones … different story haha). There are nine used elements. The fundamental trinity is earth, water and fire. The other six fall in between these: ice, wind, sky, air, light and illusion. However, there is a tenth element, long forbidden: “Shadow. It was said to be the most powerful of all, equivalent to the power of the other nine elements combined.” Each of these affinities flows from one of the Immortals; a group of powerful beings who have long withdrawn from the affairs of men.

Most people have at least one affinity, called unifinitied. You also get people who are bifinitied, trifinitied, multifinitied and, the rarest of all, those powerful individuals who are omnifinitied.

I loved the characters so much. They made the novel. They were complex, funny, endearing, individualistic and each with their own backstories and demons making them multi-dimensional as characters. I don’t want to delve too deep into this (keeping this review spoiler-free), but the team who gets sent to hunt the demon include a feisty princess desperate to please her mother; a handsome, mysterious foreigner with a dark past; a sweet and innocent girl who has no idea where she came from; a strong captain with a protective spirit … and more amazing characters. I loved the dynamic between them and the sense of camaraderie that Coco Ma established so successfully.

I loved the depth to them and the psychological aspects to their characters. Several of the characters have been abused, and it was interesting to see how physical and verbal/emotional abuse are shown as equally damaging.

Asterin’s character is a particular favorite. She manages to avoid the trap that many (female) main characters fall into, of coming across as entitled or one-dimensional or too passive (everything just happens to her). She is feisty, pro-active, stubborn, fiercely protective of her friends and values their lives as more important than hers despite being heir to the throne. It was also fun seeing a strong female character who loves cooking, as this is often reserved for the more “homely” background characters because strong independent women apparently shouldn’t know how to cook. In a few words, Asterin is a refreshing and highly enjoyable character.

Coco Ma’s writing in general was enjoyable and intriguing, managing to keep a relatively good pace, and strong suspense. Most key moments in the story were super intense and well-written. There were enough plot twists to keep the story interesting without feeling forced.

The ending was WOW. There were several events during the book and at the end which sets up the next book perfectly and ensures that the reader will come back for more. I was feeling all kinds of emotions and this is largely due to how attached I became to the characters. A definite mark of good writing.

However, I do feel there are some things that could have been improved.

As all lovers of fantasy know, world building requires a fine balance between giving readers enough information to orient them without risking a too-slow pace and information overload. Coco Ma mostly manages this balance well, especially for a debut author, but there were several points during the first few chapters where I felt the information given was too much and would have been better placed at a later point in the story. It was basically a case of too much, too soon.

At the same time, some of the events that I would’ve liked to see happen (such as Asterin learning to control her powers) were simply skipped over and mentioned in retrospect. I think this is largely because of too many perspectives being jammed into this one book: I would have preferred Coco Ma picking two or three at most and sticking with them. Asterin is marketed as being the main character, but we don’t see enough of her perspective – especially during crucial moments in the story. Additionally, because there are so many main characters they dominate the story and there are very few supporting characters – resulting in the novel feeling “empty” and lacking in depth.

While the prologue intrigued me, some of the descriptions were quite repetitive and static. This also spills over to the characters and often their reactions seemed overly dramatic. At one point in my notes, I compared a character’s actions to “bad fanfiction”. This is especially true of the romantic aspects of the novel. While enjoyable, the writing of the romance often came of as forced and amateur-like. Harsh words, I know, but that’s what it felt like to me. As much as I loved the characters in question and wanted them to end up together, the process of getting them there was annoying. But once they got there, wow! I have to say this: there is definitely no lack of chemistry.

One major thing that I think was needed is some kind of list at the beginning of the book showing the alliances between the Houses, Immortals and Affinities. The readers need some orientation. It was very hard to keep track as the connection between these are slim at most; arbitrary at least. Lord Conrye from the House of the Wolf; Ice Affinity. Lord Pavos of the House of the Peacock, Illusion Affinity. It’s a lot to keep track of. *(See edit at the end)

While the world is very interesting, some aspects of it are never explained. I’m still perplexed as to what the “magical wards” protecting the city are. What is the difference between wind, air and sky affinities? There were a few plot holes as well; flaws in logic that are also due to a lack of clear explanation of how the magic actually works.

As with my review of To Kill a Kingdom, I think the main problems are all due to this being a debut novel and the writer being inexperienced. I still think she shows immense potential and all these problems are fixable in future books.

All that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down. I’ll definitely be buying this once it’s released in October, and I look forward to the rest of the series and catching up with these characters again because damn, that ending drove me nuts in the best way possible.
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A huge thanks to Netgalley and Blackstone publishing for providing me with an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review! All the following opinions are my own!

I don't know where to start with Shadow Frost, to be honest. I don't want to describe the plot too much because I don't want to give any spoilers away, but the gist of the thing is this-- Asterin is the princess of the kingdom of Axaria and she's one of the few people in the world to possess the power of multiple elements. (This world has elemental magic and each element is called an affinity. They also have affinity stones which kind of function like magic wands in this situation). Anyway, there's a big bad demon out to get everyone because someone decided to use the forbidden shadow element to summon it and it falls on Asterin and her posse to save the world. Well, more or less. There are details, but you'll find them out when you read the book.

When I started reading this book, the thing that bothered me the most was the pacing and the dialogue. The descriptions were actually pretty decent, but whenever the characters opened their mouths, unless it was exposition, anything they said was very awkward and unnatural. It was the same with the description of certain actions. And the plot doesn't even start moving until we'll past 30% of the book. I came very close to DNFing the book at this time just because it didn't interest me as much.

But, I ploughed through.

And I have to say, I am pleasantly, if mildly, surprised at how the book turned out. The writing kept getting better with each couple of chapters. The action flowed smoother, the dialogue a little more natural. The characters were good enough that I cared a little by the end. This story did really turn it around, y'all!

Objectively speaking, however, the story didn't really bring anything ground breaking to the genre of YA fantasy. It is pretty much by the numbers in how it progresses and the "twist" in the book is something anyone who has read a few series' can figure out pretty early on. I don't know if this was intentional, but the book also heavily drew from certain elements of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and that was pretty interesting.

I actually really liked the writing style of the book. The prose was lush, it was soft, it wasn't overly descriptive, in my opinion, even though it did lose direction every once in a while. There was this thing the writer did where she redid scenes from multiple perspectives one after the other, or dove into the backstory of a certain chacater quite suddenly and that stuff was a bit discomforting to read. Also, yes, the dialogue needed a lot of work. It was just very unnatural and weird and clunky, and it made me cringe so hard at times. Especially when it involved the romance. Like... No, thank you.

My biggest problem with this book was that it didn't need to be pure fantasy. I feel like the writer's style and the way the chacaters behaved and the way they spoke- and by that I mean the language they adopted, which was very modern-esque and felt very out of place in a fantasy world-- were so much better suited for an urban fantasy. This book would've been bumped up a star if this was just an urban fantasy novel with a bunch of paranormal elements instead of trying to be an epic fantasy series. There was no proper world building, anyway, so I don't see why not??

All in all, it was a fun experience, especially the last quarter of the book. I saw that the author had written this book when she was 15 and that's just incredible, in my opinion. The talent of the author clearly shines through, even if the book itself is a bit meh. Shadow Frost was pretty good for a draft, imo, but it needed tons of edits and I hope the finished copy has them! I'm not too keen on finishing the series right now, but I would be very interested in picking up anything else Coco Ma might put our in the future!
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I enjoyed this one! It was quick to read and the characters were so fun. I think the author did a really good job writing a compelling story in the world that she created.
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This was a rather slow read for me which makes it difficult to get into the story and remain there so I found myself putting it down often and picking it back up later. I will say though I did really enjoy the magic system! It was incredibly elaborate and unique with many elements that I really liked. I think playing into this Shadow Frost also had a very rich world! One of my favorite things in a book is excellent world building, so the fact that this one was so rich made my heart skip a beat. One of my main drawbacks in this book was the multiple POV and many characters to keep track of. When I finally figured out who was who it was also a little disconcerting that a lot of the story revolved around romance, I prefer it to be a little more subtle but that's obviously a personal preference.  I just like stories that focus more on the plot and characters and less on their romance with each other. Overall this was an enjoyable read!
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i don't know if it's the format of this or something, but i found it extremely difficult to get through this book. Not to mention I just... didn't really care about the main characters and what they were doing?
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3/5 stars

Even though I liked the world building and elaborate magic system in this YA fantasy, this was a very slow read for me and I found myself putting it down a few times. There were certain elements that kept pulling the reader away from the main story including an abundance of characters, multiple POV and the fact that every character was coupled or trying to be romantically paired off with another character. All of these particular parts of the book drew away from the overall plot and story. It also took away pages that could have been used to getting to know specific characters even more. However, I still liked the overall story and world and plan on reading the next books in the series.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to read a free ARC.
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Shadow Frost was okay. I liked the main idea with the elemental magic, the characters were funny and there where twists here and there to surprise you. But some things and the relationships between the MCs were too rushed for my liking. Maybe a young reader could enjoy it more.
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Love YA Fantasies? 

In this epic start what seems will be an strong series, we are introduced into a world full of fierce princesses, evil demons, and secret ploys. There is a ton of magic that will keep you on the edge of your seat while also navigating the craziness that is this world. 

A lot is going on in the background, but it isn't to where I was too overwhelmed by the story. I overall enjoyed it and gave it a solid 4 out of 5 stars. 

It does feel like the typical YA fantasy worlds we've come to love, but I didn't feel like I was just repeating another book all-together. The twists and turns will keep you on your toes, so watch out for this one!
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I am in love! This amazing book was written by Coco Ma at age 15(!!!) and she has managed to write a captivating, heart-wrenching and lovable book! And can I just say that it needed to be wayyyy longer to satisfy my needs for this book to just, ya know, never end! Plus the way the epilogue just…. Let’s just say I need the next one!

This book had some defining points that I felt really spoke volumes in the story. First thing, was that I love how the love triangle was handled. Although Orion definitely got on my nerves a lot throughout this novel, I am not talking about that right now. I love how there was a love triangle and then it just got sorted out in a completely unpredictable way, but I loved it so much. Now, back to Orion. He reminds me of Edward Cullen - and no, I am not swooning. I am distrubed, he seemed very possessive and jealous, and needed constant power in a situation, which I felt didn’t fit Astrin since she was such a strong and self-assured character.

The world was extremely well written, and built. The powers of the characters were just an extension of the characters. I am so glad about this to a point that I cannot explain since I feel that the characters just got that much more vibrant. The other thing that I found with this novel is that I got fanfiction vibes. Now, I am an avid fanfiction reader - especially of my ineffable husbands - and so I can say with absolute conviction that fanfiction vibes are not always trash. Although I do struggle with self-insert ones, or the ones where fifteen year olds are sold to One Direction. They rub me the wrong way.

I loved this novel so much, and apart from the creep boyfriend, I loved it! I recommend that you either buy it right now, or just stop existing. Them is the rules.
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