Young Adult Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Smitha has the wealth, status, and beauty that make her the envy of her town—until she rejects a strange man’s marriage proposal and disastrous consequences follow. Smitha becomes cursed, and frost begins to encompass everything she touches. Banished to the hills, hunted by villagers, and chilled to the very core of her soul, she finds companionship with Death, who longs to coax her into his isolated world. But Smitha’s desire for life proves stronger than despair, and a newfound purpose gives her renewed hope. Will regrets over the past and an unexpected desire for a man she cannot touch be enough to warm Smitha’s heart, or will Death forever still it?Goodreads Overview
Philosophical, Thoughtful, and Encouraging
Charlie Holmberg’s writing is constantly evolving. I’ve read a number of her books including The Paper Magician and The Fifth Doll and I think her ideas are fresh and thought-provoking. So many times I’ve been hooked by her creative book descriptions alone! Since her style is constantly improving and evolving, her earlier works aren’t quite as refined as they could be.
Of all her books, Followed By Frost seems the most fleshed out. Reading it the first time, I felt great empathy for Smitha’s plight and paid great attention to her interactions with Death and her internal battles.
Holmberg’s idea for this book is brilliant. It brings new meaning to old fairytales like The Snow Queen, whose characters also suffered because of cold magic. Holmberg is admirable at establishing her characters and story through worldbuilding. Her only issue is fleshing out her ideas. Sometimes her writing is so concise she fails to fully flesh out important moments in the story.
That aside, I don’t want to be too hard on Holmberg. Because she is concise, reading her story was refreshing and eady. I enjoyed following Smitha through her internal battles. She and other characters don’t make nonsensical decisions, which I also appreciate.
Several characters like Smitha, Lo, and Death had ample personality and relevance to the story. A lot of others didn’t get enough page time to pop out for me. But I didn’t mind very much because the most interesting and relevant interactions happen between the three characters I mentioned above.
Smitha’s curse was such a burden but her attitude towards it and its spell caster Morgan shifted as she matured. Followed By Frost is one of those books that illustrate how though some curses can twist their victims till they give up their humanity, there is always a way to overcome them and grow because of them. Smitha evolved and overcame her curse because she grew to care for others and cast aside her selfishness.
What I especially like in this story was the love story between Smitha and Lo. As I pondered their growing relationship, I thought about the nature of love and marriage. I also wondered how much I would be willing to sacrifice for another person with special circumstances.
Some of the most poignant conversations happen between Smitha and Death. I appreciated how Holmberg pointed out Smitha always had the choice to give in to Death. He could never take her will or force her to give in to him. Because Smitha knew Death’s face, she matured and understood more about life than she did before. She also obtained a better understanding of her self-worth and valued human beings better.
Who is this book for?
If you’ve read Holmberg’s books before but have never had the chance to read Followed By Frost, I would definitely recommend it. It has a few heavier themes, but overall it is an insightful book about overcoming selfishness, sacrifice and believing in our self-worth despite past mistakes.
“At first I felt angry with the bid fate had made for me, angry at the injustice of it all. Then shame swept over me for thinking such selfish thoughts. Finally came clarity, and with clarity came a sorrow that spun itself like wool around me.”
Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow!