Beasts of the Frozen Sun – Jill Criswell – ARC Review

Title: Beasts of the Frozen Sun
Author: Jill Criswell
Series: Frozen Sun Saga #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: August 6th, 2019 (Blackstone)

Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.
As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.

A huge thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book!

Beasts of the Frozen Sun follows the story of Lira, daughter of the chieftain of clan Stone, and Reyker, a warrior from a distant, frozen land who is forced to fight for a warlord known as the Dragon. The Dragon sets his sights on the island of Glasnith to conquer next, and en route, Reyker is separated from the rest of his company, eventually washes up on the shores near Lira’s home. Although the invaders are commonly seen as cruel savages, Lira realizes he is different. As a daughter of Aillira, touched by the gods, Lira’s gift is reading a person’s soul, and when she sees that Reyker is good at heart, she takes care of him. But the Dragon is not far behind, and an attack on her people is imminent.

The cover of this book is what initially got my attention, and I picked it up even though my initial thought was it was going to be a cliched story. I was quite relieved to be proven wrong. I liked that the bond between Reyker and Lira was slow to form, and it was very realistic. Reyker’s story and background was very interesting, especially to see him fight the battle-madness that he is cursed with. There is a lot of scope for character development on Lira’s part. Up until now, her arc was largely focussed around feeling trapped by her family, clan and their culture, and then upon escaping, possibly with Reyker. But with the twist at the end of the book, things have changed for Lira and I’m enjoying guessing what her path ahead might be.

While this started off quite interesting, after a point, it felt very repetitive, where Lira and Reyker basically run, hide and get caught over and over. This, among other things made it extraordinarily hard for me to connect to either protagonist. I also found the world-building to be largely insufficient. While Glasnith itself is well described, other aspects such as the green gods and ice gods are rather vague and I’m still more than a little confused how this stuff works. Hopefully the sequel will expand on this a little more, especially since the magic and myth portions are what I liked best about this book.

With Celtic and Viking themes to it, Beasts of the Frozen Sun is definitely one of the more unique stories I’ve come across, particularly in terms of setting. I’m still conflicted about it plot wise, and I really hope that ending is resolved sooner rather than later in the sequel, but that aside, this was a good, somewhat dark, fantasy read with a lot of potential, and I would definitely recommend it.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:

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