Cover Image: Shadow Frost

Shadow Frost

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Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

Shadow Frost is the kind of book that I really wanted to love. It has a gorgeous cover, a captivating name and the summary left me curious enough to want to know more about the quest. Were there things that I liked about this book? Yes. But there were also a great deal of things that just didn’t quite work for me. For simplicity’s sake, I’m splitting this review into three points: What I loved, What I liked and What I didn’t like.

What I loved: I loved the magic system and world-building. This first book merely scratched the surface on some of its aspects, but I love the idea that there is more than one Kingdom in this world, and that each of them masters a different element. I loved the idea that magic is channeled through affinity stones, which is something that I found very original. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, and there are those who can wield magic without the stones, and though I’m a bit confused by this, I’m sure it will be explored more thoroughly in future books.
Another aspect I loved was the attention to friendship. Sometimes, in the epic adventures and romance of fantasy, friendship tends to slither through the cracks. But this book had some very strong family and friendship bonds that I loved reading about.

What I liked: I liked the writing, but I did have some difficulty with it. There were times when it flowed very smoothly and eloquently without overdoing, but there were other moments—especially in the dialogues—where the writing felt very immature. Now, I know the book was written when the author was 15, but I didn’t know about the author’s age when I picked up the book, and I imagine that neither will many people picking it up. It honestly felt lacking in things that an editor could have easily counseled to improve, so I don’t feel like the author’s age when she wrote the book should be an excuse. However, I think this is something that will improve in future books, and I enjoyed it for the most part.

What I didn’t like: Unfortunately, everything else. Firstly, I felt like the plot that was promised in the summary simply wasn’t in the book. The action expires in a succession of childish banter between characters and told-not-shown reveals. The book lacked a true climax, and I think what damaged it most of all was the fact that there were too many points of view that ended up being too revealing. I also wasn’t a fan of the characters themselves. This book had a large cast of characters, but while there were some that I fancied more than others, none were able to leave a lasting impression. The result is that I was not invested even in the romance—which is usually one of the things I love most in a book, but that here felt like a strange union of slow burn and insta-love.

Sadly, the ending didn't leave me curious enough to want to know how this story is going to progress, so I doubt that I’ll be continuing with this series. However, if you enjoy reading very young YA and want to try a new take on elemental magic, then this could be a book that you might want to try for yourselves.
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I totally loved this book and I look forward to keep reading more books of the author! And excellent job was done with this book, it was splendid and magical! I'm totally impressed with the results. I'm recommendating this to literaly everyone who listens to me these days.
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I have been excited to read SHADOW FROST since I first heard about it a few months ago. I am an absolute sucker for fantasy, and YA fantasy in particular has been *killing it* these past few years! There are some amazing books being written (and, I have to add, I love and am so proud that most of them are written by women!), and SHADOW FROST *easily* belongs in that category. I am flabbergasted that Ms. Ma wrote this when she was a mere 15 years old – she is clearly a prodigy in multiple respects! I was drawn in from page one of this epic fantasy that includes everything from magical abilities and a kickbutt princess to tight-knit friendships, sweet romance, and demon hunting. How awesome does that sound?

I have to say I love the demon hunting aspect of this story – and just the raising of a demon in general. That part reminded me a bit of THE GREAT HUNT by Wendy Higgins (which I also loved). In order to try and stop the demon ravaging the country, Princess Asterin, along with two of her oldest friends and two new friends, heads out to track it down. Much danger ensues, while new friendships are formed and others may be put to the test. Each of the five has different magical abilities, which are really cool. I love the whole magical system in this story and how they are loosely based on the elements but also connected with the nine gods that populate the Immortal Realm. It’s a very cool mythology, and the world-building is excellent. There were surprises that threw me for a loop, and the ending has given me some concerns about what’s ahead for Asterin and her crew! I am now on pins and needles waiting for the next installment…do I really have to wait a whole year??

SHADOW FROST just feels so fresh and unique, and I love the world, characters, and mythology/magic system Ms. Ma has created. It’s an excellent story that, while dense, you will find yourself racing through because you can’t stop reading. If you are at all a fan of fantasy and/or paranormal, I cannot recommend this highly enough!

RATING: 5 stars!

**Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book for purposes of this blog tour. This review is voluntary on my part and reflects my honest rating and review of the book.
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Thank you netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for a free copy of the book in exchange for a review. Also: excellent job on the cover. 

Oh boy okay. DNF'd at 112 pages/28%


Look, I don't know how much of this is me, as this book seems to be quite loved. Fantasy, especially YA fantasy, and I have an incredibly complicated relationship. I can't pick and choose what I do like about it, but I do know I am super picky about it. To the point that I've honestly tried not to grab any galleys of them anymore because I rarely like them. 

I am so glad that I found out the author originally wrote this at 15 and is only 19. Coco, it is amazing you got published, and I do actually look forward to seeing what you do in the future. 

Because I do think part of my is that this book reads like a new book. It's mostly in the dialogue for me. I think the concept here is really cool -- the princess is bad ass, she's got some great friends, a complicated and bad relationship with her mom, and now there is a demon threatening the kingdom. Even some of the random reveals are really cool. 

But everything reads and feels so surface level. It takes 80 pages to get to the demon problem, and there is no build up to it. None at all. The guardians(?) are practicing, and then suddenly we find out that thirty guards have gone missing. And the fight the princess has to get her mother to allow her to leave is ....incredibly easy? 

Mostly though, I just can't deal with the dialogue (at one point a guardian says bye to a guy by his name, the princess asks why he knows the name, and it's JUST. POINTLESS.), nor when a guy is more worried about his crush having a boyfriend when they're all at risk of dying from a demonic creature. That's the point I had to close the galley and put it up. 

Maybe I just need to read longer fiction, because I am guessing everything that's going to get put into this book isn't going to have enough build up. I just don't feel any pull to care about the characters or the kingdom, and I can't do that for 400 pages. I gave it 62 pages longer than I normally would, knowing that the author is young, but that's my limit.
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Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Shadow Frost 
By: Coco Ma 

*REVIEW*  🌟🌟🌟🌟
Shadow Frost is a uniquely designed story. What I mean is that there are really six main characters, instead of the usual one or two. Each has a distinct voice and perspective, and I found the story easy to follow. I didn't get lost in the characters. They worked very well as a cohesive unit. In addition, the time and place are vividly rendered with beautiful and lyrical descriptions that are detailed. This story is definitely different, but it's well written and worth giving a try.
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This book had a unique premise, it was a tad bit slow at the beginning but swept me up soon enough and kept me in it's grip well until the end. I would recommend it to other fellow fantasy fans in a heartbeat. Thank you for allowing me to read and hand sell this title.
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When I began reading this novel, I wasn’t sure I would like the main character. Asterin is strong but can be a bit of a brat at times and that was something that took me a little time to grow used to her and actually enjoy her. She is strong and a fighter, never backing down. I ended up really liking how resilient she became. Asterin knows her strength and will not let others fight battles she thinks she is capable of winning. So…she goes on a journey to find a demon who is leaving nothing but death and destruction in its wake. She will not sit idle while others fight for her, she wants to be in the fight…hands-on. I really love that. Women need to see those types of characters, the ones who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves…the ones who aren’t damsels waiting to be rescued. We need to show young women that it is alright to be strong and stand up for what we believe, that we don’t need to be ‘saved.’

 

As the book progresses, I fell more in love with Asterin and her friends. Beware though because not everyone is what they seem. The ending really had me second-guessing myself. It isn’t all sad though, there are some great laughs to be had. I ended up falling in love with this book. I mean honestly…who wouldn’t with such a strong lead character, wonderful word building, and magic!

 

Yes…there is romance and it is a trope. Here we see the enemy to lover trope but in my opinion it was pushed on the reader rather quickly. I would have liked to have seen more development between them, letting time pass a little. I understand why it was done this way though, the story overall is very fast-paced and I did enjoy it. Some spots were more slow-moving than others and I had to force myself not to skim the pages. This is not a read that I finished in two hours…it took days (especially since I have kids and a million other things to do each day haha). Can you believe that Coco Ma wrote this book at age 15?! Well believe it because it happened. I am not sure why I am surprised though because I know many young, teen writers. But this book was soooo good!!

 

Another one of my biggest issues with this book was the characters. Yes, I loved them all but there was a huge emphasis on how physically attractive they each were. I understand this makes them appealing but it can also be a turn-off. Where is the diversity in characters? Not all of us have thin figures and long flowing hair, nor do all men have muscular bodies. I would have liked to see a little more diversity in the book, that’s all. Beauty comes in many forms.

 

Overall, this was a wonderfully entertaining read and I look forward to book two! Coco Ma is an incredibly talented writer and I can only imagine what she has in store for us next.
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I’m getting tired of YA fantasy monarchies, at least the traditionally ‘western’ ones. The princesses are all sarcastic and the princes are just a smirk personified, and all this ground feels very well-treaded. I’m reading too much into this, but what does it say when all the important and powerful characters are determined by ‘blood’ and the station to which they are born? I never thought I’d pine for the Bella Swan styled “regular girls, sigh”, but here we are.

The character interactions really aren’t charming in the slightest. They’re just mean to each other, then their ears and cheeks flush. Not to mention how inappropriate some of these relationships are; if someone is your ‘guardian’ growing up, but as soon as you get boobs it becomes *something more*, then he needs to be shipped off to the Woody Allen Island of Misfit Predators. Also—what’s desirable about a guy crashing through your closed bedroom window, leering at your “low neckline”, then slapping him while he clutches a...baby bird? Is this what teenagers think is romantic now? Back in my day, creepy older men in books simply snuck into teenage girls’ bedrooms to watch them sleep, like NORMAL people.

And woooooow the male posturing is just next level. Two dudes are arguing and fighting every other chapter over said sarcastic princess’s **vIrGiNiTy** and it’s incredibly toxic. She also hits them both a lot. Hopefully I don’t need to explain why these are problematic, especially for teenagers. Relationships shouldn’t be this hostile, and there’s nothing in the least bit romantic about how these characters act with each other.

It’s fine, just too familiar. If you’re looking for a paint by numbers YA fantasy novel, then this is as good an option as any. The author apparently wrote this when she was 15, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and am open to reading more from her.
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Actual rating: 4.5 stars
This book was absolutely amazing! Such a wonderful beginning to a book series that I was addicted to since page 1! It gave me a “Frostblood” (written by Elly Blake) vibe and I loved it!!
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Shadow Frost was a well written and interesting debut fantasy. The found family vibes, the banter, lots of secrets makes it a really fun read. My problem with the book was that it got a little predictable at times which made it boring. A lot happens in the last 20% and until then it’s just good. I really liked it but I am not sure if I loved it.
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so I first want to say that I think this book would work well for younger audiences in the YA spectrum. reading the author’s bio it says she wrote this at 15 and while I admire TF outta that (teenage and adult me could never) you can definitely tell while reading. 

shadow frost is the quintessential 2000s YA novel. it follows a princess, a band of hooligans with lots of banter, and a villainous demon. 

because I have grown as a reader from these cliches and tropes this absolutely fell flat for me. everything was extremely surface level from the world building, the magic, the characters, the plot, and even the countless plot twists that left me with nothing to be desired. 

I thought the writing was very clunky and unpolished. I can’t help but think if the author built on this world further and wrote a few more drafts this could have been much better.

this is also clearly a character driven story as we follow six members of this band of individuals as they are trying to hunt for this demon. however the same problems I have with the writing carry through with the characters. the dialogue and actions were so cheesy it hurt and, again, everything was SO surface level and underdeveloped. and because this story was carried through the characters it prevented me from caring about anything that was happening. 

again it may be because I’m not the intended audience for this but this definitely does not hold up to this new wave of YA in 2019.
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I have been a little back and forth on YA Fantasy lately but THIS one, THIS one is what I love about YA Fantasy!

Characters: Told by multiple POV, I think Asterin’s is actually my favorite. Asterin is the princess with a rare powerful ability. She is sassy, sweet, skillful, and a bit naive but in a cute way. I liked the mix of Quinlan’s personality of shy but also knows what he wants. He has a tortured past that is sure to have everyone feeling for him. He is one of the things that Asterin is naive about for a long time! They have really good chemistry and I can’t wait to see more! I also really enjoyed the other characters. They all held their own stories really well. They were also unique enough in the personalities that I didn’t get bored.

Plot/ World: I’ll make my list of plot points again, because, how can you not love this plot?! Princess with a rare ability, powerful friends, a love interest with a tortured past, a shadow demon that is massacring people, an epic quest, and some surprises along the way. I loved the added plot point of her and her mom’s relationship. It was complicated. It is rare for an author to write about a parent/ child relationship that is in a grey area of both love and a bit of abuse. I find it very interesting! I loved the elemental magic system that Ma writes. It still has a price, but it’s very powerful. I like that she has 10 elements that different people can control with a select few being able to control all of them. She does a really good job of writing her own unique world for us to adventure in!

Writing: This is Coco Ma’s first book and she’s in her young 20’s?! She has a GREAT career ahead of her. Absolutely wonderful writing. It was descriptive without being overly so. I never got lost, nor did I ever get bored!

Final Thoughts: I need the second book like, yesterday. I am super invested in this story. I would definitely recommend this to pretty much everyone I know who like YA Fantasy. I see this being a favorite for sure!
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I was not a fan of this title. Everything happened too quickly for my liking. There was power with no training, a quest with barely a backstory, a love interest with no time, and no parental supervision with no issues. It just didn’t make sense. 
I like to get into the story quickly, but there needs to be some backstory, especially with a fantasy novel in a new world. There was no world building here and good explanation of powers and how they work in this land. 
My other major drawback was that the queen and her right hand were very doubtful of Asterien’s powers one day and then send her out (the heir to the throne) on a quest the next. The quest itself is to kill a beast that no one has been able to best in large numbers, but a small group of teens is deemed appropriate. It was all too unbelievable for me, even for a fantasy novel.
The relationships throughout the novel are rushed and in need of refining, along with the pace of the story. In general, I feel that there is an interesting story here, with great characters, and ideas, but it is lost in the mish mash of action without words.
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Shadow Frost is the first novel in a series of the same name by Coco Ma. It's a fantasy world where nothing is what it appears to be, yet our main characters will have to do whatever it takes to save their kingdom.
	In a world where magic and gods interfere on the regular, a demon has been terrorizing and murdering the people. And it's up to Princess Asterin to stand up to this beast – and find the cause behind its appearance.
	Asterin Faelenhart is the Princess of Axaria, and she's one driven and unique princess. She's magically gifted, determined to find her own path in life, and so much more. She's everything a little girl would want to see in a princess; she's feisty and sassy, and let's not forget that she's powerful as well.
	Luna is a complicated character, and the best friend of Asterin. She's also her lady in waiting, and she's got so much more to her plot than meets the eye.
	Orion is the guardian protector of Asterin, which means he has his hands full. It may be his job to put his life on the line for the princess, but it is a task he'll willingly do again and again. Just so long as it means she and everyone else he cares for will be okay.
	Quinlan is a royal soldier, and while it's tempting to assume he's a faceless and nameless character among many, there is actually so much more to his character. Even if he has to fight to prove himself. 
	Eadric is a unique character. Strong and silent, yet sassy to the brim. He's a man of many contradictions. He's not quite like anything you'd expect, while also being exactly what readers hoped for.
	Rose, like Eadric, is full of secrets. She knows more about what is happening in this world, and she's got a plan for how to help stop it.

	“'A task?' The creature's eyes glazed over in obedience even as the words left its mouth.
	'A shadow. I need you to be a shadow... A shadow of death.'”

	Shadow Frost is Cocoa Ma's debut novel, and she did a splendid job with this piece. It was a fast-paced novel, full to the brim of characters with their own goals and ambitions. The world itself was expansive and complex, and left me desperate to see more of it.
	Because there were so many characters in this novel, it did take a while to introduce all of them, and their importance to the main plot. It was fascinating seeing how they all connected together, and more importantly, how their roles changed as the story progressed.
	I adore the world in Shadow Frost, along with all of the politics and scheming that went along with it. I honestly can't wait to see what the next novels will reveal, as I'm sure it'll be equally dramatic and enticing.
	There were some romantic subplots strewn throughout the novel, but nothing that readers would find overwhelming. More like they're in the budding stages – with plenty of room to progress in later novels. They certainly were distracting from the main plot at all. And in all likelihood, fans will each find a ship they chose to hang on to.
	Shadow Frost was such a fun read. I'm almost sad I finished it as quickly as I did. It sort of feels like I should have savored it just a bit more. But I just couldn't help myself! Now I'm stuck waiting for news about a sequel. But it was worth it!
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Thank you Netgalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I think my younger self would have maybe enjoyed this book a bit more. It has a powerful princess, a handsome guard, a mysterious and sexy new comer, a loyal best friend, magic, a demon…it has it all yet the story did nothing for me. The concept of the book wasn’t bad but the execution was poorly done, resulting in an unoriginal book. I could see where the story was going from miles away. 

We discover Axeria has more power than she originally thought, power that one of the newcomers, who also develops romantic feelings for her, helps her learn to control. At this point the story is not very eventful but it’s interesting enough because we start getting to know the characters. Finally when they all go in search of the demon I was really expecting the story to peak but, unfortunately, it was quite the opposite. There is zero fighting against the demon or any villain at all, but somehow there are a lot of practice battles… first  between Axaria and her personal guard and then magical battles between her and her new boyfriend. All this unnecessary fighting was quite painful to read because it was just pages and pages with very detailed descriptions of Axaria using her powers for no reason at all (I mean I guess it’s to practice but did we really need to be present for it?)

The whole journey is quite uneventful and then, all of a sudden, a bunch of plot twists are thrown in together, one right after the other. These plots are not actually a bad idea and could have been shocking if they had been better executed or if there had been some momentum. At this point I was honestly ready to DNF the book but I held hope for the ending. With all the new information the characters very suddenly receive, I really thought the ending would make up for everything else but it was actually the least interesting part of the book. I never connected with the characters enough to actually root for any of them and then when the ending just drags on for pages I practically stopped caring. 

But to leave on a positive note, I would like to say that the characters, although I wasn’t especially rooting for them, are very likeable which is what made me continue with the book. I also really like that we get multiple POV’s.
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Before I even read the summary of Shadow Frost, I knew I had to read this book because of the cover (isn't it absolutely gorgeous?!). And the written words behind this cover are just as beautiful. Coco Ma brings to the YA fantasy genre a fast-paced, epic adventure that teens across the world will love.

The magic system in Shadow Frost is unique and fits the story setting well. But the one thing I really liked the most about this book was the characters, especially Asterin. She's head strong and caring and really wants to prove to her mother and kingdom that she is good enough to be Queen. I enjoyed the other characters part of the squad, as each character was different and brought a new personality and perspective to the story. I will admit I was not a big fan of the multiple point of views, but it made sense to have them.

Even though I was not a big fan of the multiple perspectives, it was a good way to learn about the characters' backstories and history with Princess Asterin. One character is in love with Asterin, but Asterin is oblivious to it (which is, honestly, one of my favorite tropes), and it makes for fun interactions between the two. The characters in this story, though, are what sold this story for me, as I am a huge fan of character-driven stories. 

I thought the writing and world building were beautiful. One aspect of fantasy books I love is the world building and Coco Ma did a wonderful job. The world was descriptive and felt like it was a world that should exist in the real world. It was, overall, a fun and beautiful read.

If you're looking for a fantasy read with numerous plot twists, then definitely pick up Shadow Frost. It was twist after twist after twist and that grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept it until the last page. There were some twists I saw coming and saw that blew my mind.
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This has all the elements of a great Young Adult fantasy. There's a bunch of strong personalities lead by a pair of charismatic young women, some intrigue, a little LGBT rep, a nice, twisty plot that keeps you reading but allows the reader to make guesses on their own, and a really mean cliff hanger. The richly imagined world is just a lovely window dressing. I enjoyed that it wasn't afraid to touch on some darker topics, but didn't get bogged down into seeing how edgy it could get.

Fans of some good, old fashioned high fantasy with a young adult twist will really enjoy this one. I loved it, even though there were some bumps here and there. I help but want the next one as soon as possible (thank you, cliff hanger).
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I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this book. Princesses and demons- what a great mix. I enjoyed the character development, world building and the writing style. I would recommend this for fans of YA Fantasy
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This book started out slow, but for the last 40% we get answers, plot twists and an open ending.

I was sad at the end, when the best friends are suddenly not anymore and one leaves. Also two close male characters lives are in limbo.

I hope there is a second book coming and I can’t wait to read it!

I received this ebook copy from the publisher and NetGalley for an honest review.
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Shadow Frost is the adventurous and exciting debut from young author Coco Ma, a tale of love, magic, betrayal and family.

The story is explosive and starts with an intriguing prologue. There is a suspense that the author had built right from the first page, keeping us readers hooked to the story. The beginning looked very promising, along with a strong and brave main character. I enjoyed Asterin’s arc a lot and loved her zeal and personality. Her best friend was sweet too.

The writing and narration had a fresh new voice but at times, I felt that it was a bit off in places. Some dialogues seemed unnecessary and stretched, which would’ve looked and sounded better in a movie maybe. Despite that, I liked the fact that Coco used easy narration which flowed smoothly and was also easy to understand.

Fantasy books often make me confused with the characters, having a variety of them, and it wasn’t any different with Shadow Frost either. It’s not like I did not enjoy the characters, but there were a lot to distinguish amongst. At times, their personalities as if merged and mixed too, leaving little ground for distinction. However, I did love Rose’s character and though she was portrayed really well. Asterin was good too, but as I’ve said, she sounded very childish at times. Orion confused me with his thoughts as I found them to be unclear. Quinlan was good but ah, I couldn’t trust this guy. I dislike him and loved his dynamics with Asterin but I found the pair a bit forced. Him calling her a brat was kind of annoying and kiddish, which definitely did not make me swoon.

To be honest, I could somehow very well uncover the plot by the first ten chapters. It was easy going and tad bit predictable, but that did not ruin the fun for me. Coco Ma devises a whole new exciting world for us and she knows how to keep her readers engaged. And to think that she’s only nineteen gives me immense hope and joy.

Shadow Frost looks like a promising debut and I cannot wait to see what Coco has in store for us with the sequel.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an arc of this book.
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