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.
Trigger Warnings:Death, Abuse, mentions of rape
– My Thoughts –
I was in awe after seeing the cover of Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell and its inside was almost as beautiful as its outside. Let’s unpack my thoughts on this dark YA- borders on NA- fantasy and see if it’s something you’d love.
The enemy’s small army was spread out before him, waving their weapons, shouting, beating in wild fury upon their shields.
Beasts starts with a bloody battle where we meet one of our protagonists Reyker who is later sent to destroy another village where our heroine Lira lives. In the beginning, Reyker could be viewed as a soul-less pillager as we just witnessed the devastation he causes along with the other warriors fighting for a god called the Dragon. However, we soon realize that he’s there against his will and that he’s fighting to keep his humanity alive.
Lira is a soul-reader; she was god-gifted or as more commonly known as a Daughter of Aillira. Daughters of Aillira all have different sorts of magic but not all of the women in Lira’s island have the abilities. Women have two options on this island of Glasnith: get married or pledge themselves to Aillira’s Temple. As a grand-daughter of her clan’s leader, she should have some modicum of the freedom but alas, that’s only a dream for Lira. She’s used as a weapon for her clan like all the other god gifted women. One day, after witnessing the execution of a man in which she was complicit, she discovers a wounded foreigner near the shores and it’s none other than Reyker. Due to their history, Lira feels compelled to help Reyker without thinking of its consequences. Soon, Lira will have to choose between saving her village and her foreigner..her beast from the lands of the Frozen Sun.
You wield the lost sword of the Frozen Sun. A weapon of the Ice Gods in the hands of the Green Gods’ soul-reader. ’Tis a story poets will pen, a tale fit for the scriptures.
There’s no doubt that Jill Criswell has written a wonderful story based off of Celtic mythology where Gods toy with mortals and bend them to their will. I loved the forbidden aspect of romance and the historical setting with clans, warriors, badass women all of whom were equipped with different powers!! There’s the bit of an anti-hero aspect to Reyker too and I loved the way the author slowly unpacked the reasons behind his darkness. It was beautiful to watch the way Lira and Reyker’s friendship unfolded, how they learned to communicate, how Lira helped Reyker tread through a path of darkness into the light. The villain was pretty frightening and even though he played a minor role in this book, his actions suggest a bigger role in the upcoming sequel. Although I loved the characters, the setting, and the cliffhanger ending, there was something missing in the book. Keeping in mind that I read an ARC, I found that a lot of the actions seemed repetitive to me. The majority of the story takes place on the island and I wanted them to get out of the island at some point. If you’d noticed, I wrote NA in parentheses besides genre(above in description) because Beasts of the Frozen Sun reads more like an NA fantasy with the pace of YA.
Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a darker, grittier fantasy that borders on NA more than YA; if you’re a lover of a little bit of mystery, fantasy, star-crossed lovers angst, politics, and romance. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, there are a lot of things that were left unexplained but it definitely kept me on my toes which I appreciated very much! Book two in the Frozen Sun saga is set to release sometime next year.
Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
– About the Author –
Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).
– International Giveaway –
Thanks to the publisher, I’ll be giving away two hardcovers of Beasts of the Frozen Sun and exclusive tote bags! Open internationally. Just click on the image below:
P.S.: If the image isn’t clickable for any reason, please click here.