March Book Madness! Day 7, Charlie N. Holmberg’s Followed By Frost (2015) 4/5

Book Details

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.

The Narrative

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.

The Characters

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. 

Favorite Quotes

“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!

March Book Madness! Day 6, Joanna Ruth Meyer’s Echo North (2019) 5/5

March Book Madness! Day 8, The Bhagavad Gita, Translated By Eknath Easwaran

A Wrinkle In Time (1962) Book Quotes

I had never read this book until a few days ago and I have only one regret; that I can not go back in time and read it again as a child. It was a beautiful story. I highly recommend it.

“We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.” -Madeleine L’Engle

Book Quote of the Day: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two


Listen to me. Love is a Yeti. It is bigger than you and frightening and terrible. It makes loud and vicious noises. It is hungry all the time. It has horns and teeth and the force of its fists is more than anyone can bear. It speeds up time and slows it down. And it has its own aims and missions that those who are lucky enough to see it cannot begin to guess. You might see a Yeti once in your life or never. You might live in a village of them. But in the end, not matter how fast you think you can go, the Yeti is always faster than you, and you can only choose how you say hello to it, and whether you shake its hand.
-The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, Catherynne M. Valente, 2013

Book Quote of the Day: The Wind in the Willows


It’s a goodly life that you lead, friends; no doubt the best in the world, if only you are strong enough to lead it!”Yes, it’s the life, the only life, to live,’ responded the Water Rat dreamily, and without his usual whole-hearted conviction.

‘I did not exactly say that,’ the stranger replied cautiously, ‘but no doubt it’s the best. I’ve tried it, and I know. And because I’ve tried it – six months of it – and know it’s the best, here I am, footsore and hungry, tramping away from it, tramping southward, following the old call, back to the old life, the life which is mine and which will not let me go.

-The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, 1908

Book Quote of the Day: The Naming


‘What difference, being a pawn for the Light or a pawn for the Dark?’

There was a short silence. 

‘There is a great difference,’ said Cadvan softly. ‘One difference is that for the Dark, certainly, you are a pawn. For the Light, you are a free human being, free to make mistakes, to do wrong, even. You are free to choose, whether or not you believe it.’

‘Funny idea of freedom.’ 

‘It is the difference between commitment and slavery,’ Cadvan said. ‘Between working for what you hope for and believe in the depths of your heart, and what someone forces you to do.’ 

-Maerad and Cadvan, The Naming, Alison Croggon, 2005