Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Review: Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Book: Shadow Frost
Author: Coco Ma
Series: Shadow Frost #1
Publication: October 1, 2019

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 companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have 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.

From young author Coco Ma comes a dazzling new tale of adventure, power, and betrayal, weaving together a stunning world of magic with a killer cast in an explosive, unforgettable debut.

GUYS I ACTUALLY MET THE AUTHOR!!! Which I know is a complete tangent because you were expecting a review. So I will give you my review super quickly first, then go on to fangirl about how I met the author back in the end of November.

From the synopsis alone, I was definitely intrigued. Add a gorgeous cover, and I was bound to read this. And, to my delight, I was not disappointed. The plot had so. Many. Twists.

The plot revolves around Princess Asterin Faelenhart, who is the heir to the Axaria throne. She has a tense relationship with her mother, Queen Pricilla, and the General of Axaria, Carlotta Garringsford, never quite ever able to meet their standards and expectations. That is, until there are reports of a beast that is killing people, and Asterin sets out with a band of five others to stop it. And then ALL the twists happen.

The cast itself is large: there's Asterin (the princess), Quinlan (one of two new members of Asterin's Elites and love interest), Orion (Asterin's Royal Guardian), Luna (Asterin's lady-in-waiting and best friend), Eadric (Captain of Asterin's Elites and Luna's boyfriend), Rose (the other newest of the Asterin's Elites), and Harry (reclusive hunter). Whew. All these characters were interesting in their own way, and despite the sheer number of them, we get to experience some depth of each of their characters. They all are so much more than they appear to be, and I loved the different relationships going on with all of them.

I had quite a lot of fun reading about the magic system. There are three main elements (fire, water, and earth), with six other, and more minor, elements. They form a triangle of nine elements in total. There's also one other element that rivals the powers of all the nine elements combined, which is shadow. What I found interesting was that characters can actually learn to wield more than one element, though there are often still some hard limits to how many one can learn. There are very select and rare people who can wield all nine elements, who are known as omnifinitied. Which Asterin and Quinlan are.

Of Asterin's party, the one that threw me off was Luna's presence. As Asterin's lady-in-waiting, I didn't quite see how how joining their beast-hunting party was practical in any way. Though it becomes apparent why the author had Luna join them as the book unfolds, it still doesn't quite make sense to me why Asterin let her go. But that's okay, because it's very clear that Luna is going to be a huge character in the second book, given the aftermath of the ending.

THE ENDING. Guys, there are SO many twists. Identities, spells, revelations, misguided deception, you name it, this book has it. Holy smokes, my head was rolling trying to reorder the world in my head numerous times. The second book definitely promises to be just as good, if not better. I'm really really looking forward to it!!!

Okay. And now some fangirling because I MET THE AUTHOR. It was at her only book signing in Canada, in her hometown where she (and me!) lives. And guys. I cannot explain how amazing she is. She took the time to actually talk to me when I went up to get my book signed. And it's super crazy to see how young and talented she is (she wrote the book when she was 15 and it got published right after she finished high school!). She's just this awesome person with a heck lot of spunk and fun that you also see in her characters. I am so so so grateful I got to meet her and get my book signed!!!

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