This is a spoiler-free review and all opinions are my own.
✨ Beasts of the Frozen Sun is out August 6th! ✨
Title: Beasts of the Frozen Sun (Frozen Sun Saga #1)
Author: Jill Criswell
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: 6 August 2019
Length: 368 pages
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland, it doesn’t take long before the wrath of the Dragon unleashes upon them…
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This is the first and so far only published book in the Frozen Sun Saga trilogy.
Beasts of The Frozen Sun starts really strong with Reyker’s POV. We don’t know him yet but the first glimpse we have of him is not a very pretty one. However, we are immediately given vital pieces of information about his character and, dare I say, reasons to love him.
We then follow into Lira’s POV, who is also given a pivotal scene right at the beginning. Again, I instantly felt like I knew her and her very essence. Her powers are a constant source of conflict between her own morals and those around her, which brews a big dilemma throughout the story and serves as catalyst to many situations.
☀️ “He is everything you fear, and worse. He is also everything you hope, and more.” ☀️
I absolutely loved Lira’s personality and how deeply bounded she was by the love for her family and the duty to her clan. There were so many sides to her and I had a wonderful time trying to pinpoint them all. She was just so human.
I also felt like I could relate to her while inside her head. Not like I was an intruder, but like I was truly a part of her character.
I especially adored her relationship with her brothers, one that felt so genuine and heart-warming and that anyone close to their siblings will probably relate to instantly. Her friendship with her best friend was so very adorable as well – they treated each other like sisters in every way, and I just wished there had been more time dedicated to it.
❄️ “Never is not so long as you think, and nothing is worth far more than you’ll admit.” ❄️
The world-building couldn’t have been more exciting! Beasts of The Frozen Sun is heavily inspired by Celtic and Viking mythology and I encountered so many wonderful details and references highlighting just that.
It also didn’t feel like the plot had been built as a foundation for a love story, or worse: that the author had not taken the time to plan and research thoroughly before presenting the reader with her ideas. It could certainly have been developed more, but I believe that to have been intentional, so as to reserve some surprises for the following instalments.
☀️ “Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.” ☀️
Still, there was so much happening at once! All these converging plot lines worked so wonderfully together and I was so intensely engrossed in this book… All the loose ends were masterfully tied in a very organic fashion, too.
About 70% of chapters were fairly brutal, super fast-paced, engaging and well-constructed. I sometimes have trouble following fighting scenes in books due to poor writing, but I had no issues here.
Honestly, Beasts of The Frozen Sun read like the work of a way more experienced author, which is very impressive.
❄️ “You cling to me out of fondness and loyalty, but all the while, you’ve been waiting for someone whose secrets and dreams you don’t know as well as your own.” ❄️
The romance was very slowburn, and surprisingly homely despite the circumstances. The fact that it was enemies to lovers / forbidden also made for a really nice addition. But mostly, they were just so adorable and peaceful together it made my heart ache.
And speaking of aching heart – Crisswell really pulled no punches torturing her characters. Both Lira, Reyker and the rest of them (even their pets!) go through so much pain, both physical and mental, so much suffering, so much unbearable abuse and threats, it was very hard for me to read about it. But ultimately, I think it strengthened the story and my caring for their well-being.
☀️ “I am a beast to them. You are the only one who lets me be a man.” ☀️
I feel like I didn’t get to know Reyker as deeply as Lira. There was a lot of light shed into his backstory and I appreciated that immensely, but it seemed to have come a bit too late for me to really bond with him.
❄️ “The blade hovered between us. I could kill him. He could kill me. That’s how it was meant to be—there could be nothing else between us now.” ❄️
While I loved the romance throughout, I did find my interest fizzling out a bit by the end. After waiting for so long, I was left a bit underwhelmed and then the sudden shift almost felt like it washed away everything that had built up until that point.
When I started this book I couldn’t stop reading! There was always something going on, tons of action, plot twists, suspense, characters either being killed or under threat or running from something (or towards something)… I could hardly catch my breath.
The world-building was amazing, solid, and gradually unfolded before my eyes. The Celtic and Viking-inspired mythology was also brilliantly incorporated without sounding cliché, enriching the story even more.
The characters were another great part of this book: genuine and human and relatable. Even the villains were able to inspire fear within me and really feel for everyone’s safety.
If you adore family (and particularly siblings) dynamics, you’ll love Lira and the rest of the Stones, as well as her sisterly devotion to her childhood best friend. I wished we’d been able to spend more time with them, but there was a lot of pressing matters to attend to!
The romance was lovely but while it tortured me for the longest time and made me crave for it non-stop, it didn’t actually culminate in the most satisfying way, which was a bit disappointing. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t find them incredibly swoony and want to find out what happens in book two!
Overall, I absolutely recommend this! It reminded me of my favourite Juliet Marillier novels which, if you haven’t read yet, are totally missing out…