FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake
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Ruby thought her life of running and hiding her powers was torture. That was before the real torture began–before the Frostblood king’s guards found her, killed her mother, and imprisoned her in a dungeon of ice. After six months in prison, even her fire powers can’t warm her. But when two mysterious figures with frost powers rescue her, she isn’t sure whether to be grateful or afraid. Surely a Frostblood would never help a Fireblood. They take her to a monastery and the older Frostblood, Brother Thistle, begins to train her to control her powers. He needs her to carry out a mission for him to destroy the cursed throne, and hepledges to keep her safe, no matter how suspicious the other monks may be. The younger Frostblood is definitely not a monk. A warrior with a scarred face and a surly disposition, Arcus initially infuriates Ruby, but soon earns her respect and maybe something more. But nothing–not even love–will get in the way of Ruby’s own mission. She will destroy the throne for Brother Thistle, but then she will finally avenge her mother’s death by killing the Frostblood king.
I am so glad I picked up this book! I hesitated since the plot seemed so tired (boy and girl with opposing magic powers fall in love and kill the king), but what it lacked in originality, it made up for in compelling characters, good pacing, and a complex picture of good, evil, and the human heroes and villains who fall somewhere inbetween. In many ways, the story reminded me of the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamara Pierce. The romance itself is very Elizabeth Bennett-Mr. Darcy. As the ending was left open for a series, it will be interesting to see how Blake keeps the relationship tension alive in subsequent books, since the romance was completed in the first.
Very highly recommended to teen fantasy readers!