Hello Humans! I’m on a bit of an ARC kick at the moment, there seem to be so many amazing books publishing in April and May and I can’t seem to stop myself from reading them – my backlist pile is getting a little loomy so I’m going to have to adjust my reading schedule at some point soon! But for now I’ll stick to reading these amazing new titles, one of which is Jessica Leake’s Through the White Wood, the new book from the author of Beyond a Darkened Shore. This book was hailed as a cross between The Bear and the Nightingale and Frostblood one of which I adored and the other I found hilariously ‘ya’ so I was looking forward to seeing where this book went.
Katya’s power to freeze anything she touches has made her an outcast in her isolated village. And when she loses control of her ability, accidentally killing several villagers, she is banished to the palace of the terrifying Prince Sasha in Kiev.
At the castle, though, she is surprised to find that Sasha is just like her—with his own strange talent, the ability to summon fire. Instead of punishment, Sasha offers Katya friendship, and the chance to embrace her power rather than fear it.
But outside the walls of Kiev, Sasha’s enemies have organized their own army of people who can control the very earth. Bent on taking over the entire world, they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed everything.
Katya and Sasha are desperate to stop the encroaching army, and together their powers are a fearsome weapon. But as their enemies draw nearer, leaving destruction in their wake, will fire and frost be enough to save the world? Or will they lose everything they hold dear?
I would describe this book as being what I wanted Frostblood to be. It’s a delightful YA fantasy romance that has the ‘this main character has dangerous powers that she has to learn to handle’ without being quite so cliché as Frostblood is. I’ll do my best to make this review more than just a comparison between the two – but it’s worth noting that I didn’t want to add Through the White Wood to my ‘So YA it hurts’ shelf.
I loved the Russian setting, and I think the fact that this book has a historical setting as opposed to being a totally new world is one of the things that sets it apart from other similar titles. There are plenty of little details that help to set the scene, in particular I liked the various descriptions of clothing, many of which I want to now go and look up so I can have a better understanding of what they look like. Giving the book that real world grounding was absolutely the best choice and definitely helped me to enjoy what might have otherwise felt like a pretty generic fantasy novel.
This is absolutely a fantasy romance, so if that isn’t your thing then I’d maybe try something else first. I thought that the pacing of said romance was overall quite good, though it kind of moves along in quite quick jumps it doesn’t feel instantaneous – it worked for me.
I think this book would have benefitted from a little more time spent on the backstory to the powers people have. I would have liked a little more obvious mythology. That might have just been my reading of it, but I wanted a little more of an explanation, particularly of the powers that our main characters did not possess. At times it felt like the reasoning went almost far enough but not quite. I’m a sucker for metaphysic and mythology so maybe that’s just me?
This book, while it deals with some difficult character development, is still a really nice easy read, I got through it over two days (I blame working full time). It certainly has that ‘page turner’ feel to it, you breeze through it chapter by chapter and before you know it you’re at the end. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy novels in which the characters have to learn to control their powers but who feels like books with extraneous ‘y’s in the names have got a little stale.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Through the White Wood comes out (in the UK) on May 16th
What say you? Did you enjoy Jessica’s previous book? Let me know your thoughts on frosty fantasy in the comments below!