Monday, 18 December 2017

PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW - by Ruth Lauren

PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW - Ruth Lauren
Published: September 2017 - Bloomsbury Children's.
Genres: Middle grade / fantasy / adventure
Pages: 288.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Very, very mild violence and threat.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball Publishers SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice. But that's exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside. No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison ...


I don't typically read Middle Grade books, but after reading Di's review of this one, I was convinced to request a review copy.
I'm so glad I did.


The writing is lovely. It's a Middle Grade book, so obviously it reads very MG, and there's a charm and elegance to that and the author's style. I like it, even though there is a bit too much telling instead of showing throughout the book.
The dialogue is disappointing. It definitely isn't terrible, but it isn't particularly exciting or original or witty either.

I love that the story's action starts right away. It flows so smoothly and naturally, and you're caught up in the danger from the very first page. I adore that, and I adore that there's no info dumping either. Lauren begins her story perfectly. The plot is also great, with lots of twists and turns and tons of delicious secrets seething beneath the icy world and its inhabitants. I love how you're constantly kept guessing.

This unique, Russian-inspired fantasy world is without a doubt my favourite aspect of the book. It's so vivid and gorgeously chilly, and the descriptions are stunning. I love its originality, not to mention the terrific bending of gender tropes: a Queen rules the lands, instead of a King, and her next in line is her daughter, not her son. It's awesome!


I should feel worse than I do, chilled to the bone, hungry and still tired. I should be terrified that I'm going to get caught. But all I can think about as I hurry away is that I did it. I found Sasha. And now there's nothing I won't do to get her out of Tyur'ma. 


Valor is a wonderful, resourceful, fierce little heroine. I love how committed she is to her goals and saving her sister, and how relentlessly persistent she is when it comes to achieving them. I especially adore her and Sasha's relationship; its a strong, positive, beautifully tender sister to sister dynamic, something that isn't present an awful lot in books these days. 
There are other great relationships too. I love Valor's platonic friendships (there is NO romance in this book) and the emphasis on family. It's truly heartfelt. 

As for the other characters, I found them a bit lacking. No one bounces off the pages with concrete personality, and I wish everyone had been more fleshed out. It would've strengthened their friendships and relationships. 



Prisoner of Ice and Snow is a passionate prison-break adventure story that shines with themes of sisterhood, family, and even feminism. The world building is exquisite, the descriptions are glorious, and I imaging even most YA readers would find themselves won over by this Middle Grade gem. 


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