By Charlie N. Holmberg
Available now from 47North (Amazon Publishing)
Charlie N. Holmberg's Paper Magician trilogy had an inventive magic. It was enough to get me to give her new book a glance, which sounded right up my alley. Beautiful and spoiled Smitha was cursed to be as cold as her heart by a man she rejected. Now she lives in a permanent blizzard; her only companion is Death. He wants her to come with him, but Smitha clings to life, even lonely.
I thought FOLLOWED BY FROST was a beautiful book. I like that Holmberg and the novel acknowledge that Mordan was wrong to pursue Smitha when she made her disinterest clear. At the same time, Smitha went above and beyond to be cruel in her rejection, both standing him up and then going on a nasty tirade. No one deserves to be cursed as she was, but she does come to realize that she could've handled the situation better.
The descriptions of how thorough the curse is are wonderful. Smitha's clothes freeze on her body, and tears can stick her eyes shut. She has to gulp down boiling food lest it freeze in her mouth. As Death points out to her, few people would survive. I thought Death's tête-à-tête's with Smitha were wonderfully tense, but I enjoyed when the world expanded to include more people. FOLLOWED BY FROST really does use Smitha's curse quite fully. As the book continues it starts to shift into a romance, which is unsurprising in a book revolving around a curse about a cold heart.
Smitha does get the most development of anyone in the book, as she should. But I thought the hero was a good fit for her. Smitha is stubborn and impulsive, but also kind and passionate about books and languages. She's an interesting person who needs someone equally intriguing in her life to truly be happy.
FOLLOWED BY FROST is a terrific romance with a fairytale feel. It has YA appeal, and does start when Smitha is seventeen, but most of the book is set in her early to mid-twenties. If this sounds like your kind of thing, then give FOLLOWED BY FROST a chance to burrow under your skin and into your heart.