Title: Frostfire (The Kanin Chronicles)
Author: Amanda Hocking
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: Jan 6, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Summary from Goodreads:
Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.
Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who's determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She's not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.
But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?
If you’ve read Amanda Hocking’s Trylle trilogy, Frostfire will sound familiar. I read the series a few years ago and remember liking it. I thought Hocking created an interesting world, and realistic relationships. In fact, that was one of the first YA books I read that switched the main love interest half way through the series. The switch gave the relationship a more genuine feel, because it built over time, compared to a love-at-first-site story. Similarly, Bryn and Ridley’s relationship is based off of a friendship that grows. I like it when authors go this route. It debunks the fantasy of sparks flying at first site or touch (like many YA romances).
The Kanin are a troll tribe (in the same world as the Trylle troll tribe). But these aren’t Tolkien trolls like in The Lord of the Rings. These trolls look like people, but have special abilities. Some have gills to help them breathe under water, others have telekinesis, and others have sensing abilities (internal GPS) and skin that can change with moods or surroundings. Don’t worry, if you haven’t read the Trylle series, all of this is explained in the book through the character Linus. Linus is Bryn’s latest Changeling charge. A Changeling is a troll-born child who is placed within a human family as a baby to be retrieved (by a Tracker) as a teenager so they might return to their troll parents–along with their trust-fund, which finances the larger troll tribe (Phew!). Anyway, Bryn has to teach all of this to Linus, so the reader is also informed.
While retrieving Linus, Bryn runs in to Konstantin for the first time since he tried to kill her father. Konstantin is busy kidnapping Changelings (for what purpose we still don’t know). Bryn imagined herself in love (from a distance) with Konstantin before his dastardly offense against her father.
This relationship was confusing to me. I wasn’t sure (and the Goodreads summary hints at this) if we were supposed to believe Bryn was romantically conflicted in her relationship with Konstantin or not. Their confrontation in her hotel bedroom certainly had some sexual tension, but this didn’t make sense to me after his confession concerning his motivations behind the kidnappings toward the end of the book.
Bryn and Ridley’s relationship is angsty. Bryn thinks falling in love will make her too soft and distract her from her job. She’s also worried about starting something with Ridley, because he’s her boss. Ridley obviously has feelings for Bryn, but is not sure if he should pursue them. Bryn is just realizing she has feelings for Ridley, but has an aversion to love, blah blah blah.
Anyway, this whole business between Bryn and Konstantin, and Bryn and Ridley, and the kidnappings is completely unresolved at the end of the book. The first book in the Kanin Chronicles is very much a long introduction to the series. Luckily, the second two books in the series both come out this year: Ice Kissed and Crystal Kingdom. You might want to wait until all three are out to read the series, especially if you hate books without closure.
Would I let my teen read this?
I would not make this book off-limits. Bryn is generally a strong heroine with qualities to be admired. I could’ve done with a little less romance and a little more action, but that’s not necessarily a critique to the content of the book. I just thought it was kind of boring. If the book were a movie, it’d be rated PG-13 (see details listed below). Sometimes the character’s age can give you insight to the content of the book. Bryn is 19 and her love interest is 24. The character’s ages do introduce adult relationship themes, like sleeping around, but Frostfire mostly alludes to these themes. There are no sex scenes, and most of the kissing is in our protagonist’s imagination. There’s some violence, but it’s not graphic.
Age recommendation: 16
Swearing – Mild, but includes one f-bomb
Drugs and Alcohol – Ridley drinks some wine, but he’s over 18
Sex – Kissing; Reference to Ridley having many sexual partners; Reference to homosexuality
Violence – Hand to hand combat; Sword combat (two stabbings, one character’s throat ripped out, but isn’t described in gory detail); Mention of accidental murder of 15 yr old girl.
My Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Buy: Frostfire (The Kanin Chronicles Book 1) - on Amazon.com
I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.