Shadow Frost

Blackstone. (Shadow Frost Trilogy: Bk. 1). Oct. 2019. 428p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781982527440.
Gr 7 Up–Teenage princess Asterin and her most loyal advisors set out to slay a deadly demon of darkness that is killing inhabitants of the Kingdom of Axaria in this good but overly long fantasy series opener. Citizens have magical abilities that are tied to affinity stones representing nine elements, each hailing from a different kingdom and bloodline. A tenth element, shadow, is the most powerful, but its use is forbidden. Asterin has mastered five elements but acquires even more skill after receiving another stone as a gift from neighboring Queen of Eradore. Orion, Asterin’s Royal Guardian; Eadric, the captain of her guard; Luna, Eadric’s girlfriend and Asterin’s lady-in-waiting; and two new young Elite Guards from the kingdom of Eradore accompany Asterin on her quest. They encounter a wyvern, a pit full of corpses of villagers brutally killed, and other dangerous beasts in their demon hunt. The twisty plot is full of intrigue, and a sweet queer romance unfolds as the plot is told through characters’ third-person points of view, but the story’s middle section lags. The author originally wrote this novel at age 15 and uses anachronistic language that doesn’t exist in this fantasy time period (“my bad”).
VERDICT Asterin is a strong and realistically flawed heroine, and the other characters are satisfactorily fleshed out, but the book’s pacing is uneven. Recommended only for larger libraries where fantasy is popular.

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