Prisoner of ice and snow, by Ruth Lauren, for MMGM

I felt a bit like a sucker for punishment in picking this book, because our area has already had more snow than usual and set records for how cold it’s been. Of course, that’s cold by standards that wouldn’t even make a Canadian’s radar, but we in the south are feeling ready for spring weather! Prisoner of Ice and Snow, however, is worthy of a few shivers.

cover Prisoner of Ice and Snow

The story has a fantasy feel to it, but there’s no magic or anything overtly fantastic. It’s rather like The False Prince, in that respect, which was another favorite of mine. In this world the queen of Demidova is about to make a super important treaty with a neighboring land…but she can’t because the whole thing will be sealed by the exchange of a historically significant music box, and the priceless box has been stolen. By the heroine’s twin sister.

For her crime against the realm, Sasha has been sentenced to a life in prison. Since she’s only 13, she’ll begin at Tyur’ma, the notorious juvenile prison. If she lives to age 16, she’ll be switched to the adult prison, but given Tyur’ma’s reputation, living to that ripe old age is a big if. And that’s one reason the main character, Valor, is determined to get Sasha out–even though that means she’ll have to first be sent to prison herself.

The book begins at this point, as Valor makes her move to join her sister, and it never lets up for a moment. I read it super fast, and found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. In fact, one night it so thoroughly permeated my dreams that I remember waking in the night and wondering crossly if I wouldn’t get more sleep if I just got up and finished it, then went back to bed. That might be partly because the book is well balanced. It’s rare for a book to reach this level of world building mastery and plotting, while still having the compelling characterization it has. Every one of the characters were fully sketched and interesting. And one of the things I really enjoyed was how different the twins are, with one fierce and one sweet, and yet both strong, resilient and usefully talented in their own very separate ways. Their bond is deep and they love each other more than anything, but they don’t have any special twin powers and there’s no way you could ever mix them up. I really enjoyed the way it showed two such different ways of being a strong girl.

I mentioned plotting as a strength, and that’s true…to a point. I did guess who would be the ultimate villain, in the end, from early on. However, I wasn’t certain, and constantly rechecked my evaluation. Besides, I’m hardly a typical reader, having worked as a content editor for a publisher for a number of years with fixing broken plots one of my major responsibilities! Additionally, the sisters’ challenges throughout the book and the painful question of who they could trust were also up in the air, and kept me at the edge of my seat!

Now, let’s see what Apricot-kitty has to say:

apricot-one-ear-back-mystified“That terrible, horrible snow. I’ve been suspicious of it from the beginning, but now…are you really tell me that wet cold white stuff could kill us? And you let it fall all over the yard?”

 

 

 

 

The kitty’s reaction aside, this book is an excellent reminder of how deadly snow and cold can be. The prison warden’s use of it was rather ingenious, though equally horrible. I don’t remember any mention of sledding, or snowmen, anywhere in the novel though perhaps that was because the girls spent most their time in prison. At any rate, the climate and constant cold felt like an essential part of the country’s culture, where even an innocent icicle could be pressed into service as a weapon.

book photography Prisoner of Ice and Snow

Since this first book ends with an obvious opening for a sequel, I checked Ruth Lauren‘s author website and was thrilled to see the next book will come out in April of 2018! So our timing is excellent. My only advice if you start the series is to first make sure you have a deeply stocked pantry of hot chocolate. 🙂

For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday reviews, spotlights, giveaways and interviews, stop by Greg Pattridge’s blog, and happy reading!

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16 comments to Prisoner of ice and snow, by Ruth Lauren, for MMGM

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