This series had been on my radar for a while, floating on goodreads and amazon whenever I was book shopping. I don’t think I had seen it pop up on Booktube or Bookstagram, but when it came time to buy some books for Quarantine this one oddly came up in my mind almost immediately. So, like all the books/series reviews that came before, what did I think of this one? I guess before going into the review, this will have some spoilers, though I’ll try to be more of an overall thoughts on the books. This one turned out not to be one of my favorites, so I’ll just say that this is my opinion, not fact. With that said, let’s get into this.
This one doesn’t stray too far from the YA Fantasy stories we’ve all been reading over the years; it has magic, warring factions, and a female protagonist with a sad past. Ruby is a fireblood, born with the ability to control fire and heat, but she was born in a country of frostbloods. When her ability is reported to the local forces, everything she’s known and cared about is ripped away, her life reduced to one behind bars until she is given an offer. To save her own life and get the chance to start over she has to take down the cruel Frostblood king. Who can say no to that?
Frostblood (Book 1) : 3 out of 5 Stars
This was a really good start to the book with a some good action in the first chapter. Considering I often run into books/series that have slow starts in Fantasy/Science Fiction I was happy to have this one begin with a bang. We are first introduced to Ruby as she’s just beginning to tap into her powers and learn about them secretly. She’s been told since she was young not to show her powers, and she’s been careful to obey that one rule her mother set for her. Unfortunately, even being careful doesn’t mean you won’t get caught. Someone sees her and reports her and her mother to the local forces in the area. From there they are taken, though her mother is killed in the process, and Ruby locked in a prison. All of this happens in the first few chapters before we even get to the main synopsis of the book, which is a little surprising. On that front I really did like this book and its premise, it didn’t try to overload me with setting information. Instead, we got a nice tossing you into the fray, which is slowly becoming my favorite entry into a story. It just beats chapters and chapters of slow introduction.
What lost me a little for this one was with the characters. We have a decent list of characters once she joins up with the rebels, and we are given a lot of reasons to support Ruby and them, but for me it felt flat. It could have been me, but I just couldn’t connect with these characters or feel like I needed to care for them. The romance, which typically can help with the relatability/connectability came fast in the story, going from a slow connection to a very fast one. To sum that one up, they don’t trust each other, and slowly accept one another, but instead of maybe being friends/tentative allies they go full love interest. It makes everything from there a little harder to get into, or even get lost in the story itself. Coupled with the prose, which felt jumpy at times, and the characters just not being connectable for me, I think it was the full series already sitting on the shelves that made me go into the next books. When characters are a big part of plot for me, this felt a little hard to swallow.
Fireblood (Book Two) 3 out of 5 Stars
This one was perhaps my favorite of the series as the action picks up, and the characters were a little easier to connect with finally. While the romance felt fast in the first book, at this point it’s part of story and pushes the plot quite a bit. We hit a snag though as another love interest enters the story, and we hit one of my bookish pet peeves; love triangles. There’s very few times these work out, or even feel natural. This one was not one that worked either way. Between this book and the next Ruby is written into a position where both men are constantly at war and judging the other over her and who she likes. Considering the newest love interest hardly knows her, her existing relationship, or anything else about her at the times he’s involved it was just annoying. Not to mention kind of unnecessary, it felt like instead of having a guy friend, every guy her age that walks into her life has to be a romantic interest. Not my favorite way to know a character.
The other part of this character being flung in there as a love interest is that it felt like we missed out on some of the character’s potential as he decides somehow that while she loves one guy, maybe he can still have her. It’s all a little questionable, and was my one annoyance through this book. I actually liked this character, which is why I’m a little upset by this. He could just be the comedic insert, but there was some backstory that just didn’t become a big deal to me, because it was sidelined by the love triangle. Beyond the love triangle this one flew by a lot faster than the first, and I honestly felt like I was connecting with the characters better.
Nightblood (Book 3) 3 out of 5 Stars
This book was a lot to take in for like the first half of the book. It wasn’t as bad as what I read review wise (oh there were complaints about this), but it can get slow and consists of lots of planning, talking, not really doing, etc. When the book is meant to be the epic finale between Ruby and a dark god it can feel slow. In this part Ruby is definitely wrestling with her new inner demon (quite a literal one), as it slowly is taking over. These scenes are a little strange, it’s essentially like mean girls coming from one girl. I don’t know every time we have these in a book it just feels weird, and comes out in my head like some weird drama scene. Basically, I don’t take these scenes very seriously, instead just wondering when they are going to get rid of the demon causing it. Now that I think about it, it puts Ruby in a position to be pulled along by the plot instead of being the main push for it. Like I said these weren’t my favorite scenes, and may never be in any book.
The other sad bit for me was that the love triangle continued. I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t, but I just sighed as I realized Kai was still being the third wheel in this one. We’ll just say ‘poor dude’ and move on from that fact. Having everyone work together in this book was a nice change as we all head towards possible doom and the task against the story’s dark god. Honestly, once you get past the initial setup this book hits some decent action, and had me questioning how on earth it would end. I won’t go into that since that would be pretty bad spoiler wise, but the author did a great job tying up all the plot lines.
I think overall, this one was just not for me. I’ve read a lot of similar books, having a good background in YA Fantasy now, and my musts in a book have created a longer list. For one, characters are a vital part of storytelling for me, they need to be easy to connect with on some level, follow (somewhat) realistic paths, have relatable relationships, and be in charge of their actions. I think the inner demon part for me always irks me, because it takes away the character’s ability to own their actions. When the demon takes over, they just lose all ownership, and in a main character that just doesn’t sit well with me. Either they are apologizing for things they didn’t actually do, or just coming off kind of strange in the book’s telling of it. There are some books that do it pretty well, Throne of Glass for one has characters whose bodies are taken over by demons, but it’s a full on deal, where they battle it in their minds. Ruby in this case has maybe half control, and for the most part just says some nasty things.
The other thing that should have just been a sign for me, was the prose. Every time I complain about the prose, I should just stop. Certain styles hook me completely, while others come off as jumpy, or just lose me. This one in the end, might be more personal, so there could be others that really love this one. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, and contributed to me feeling like I was jumping over the pages a little bit.
Even given the above, this series still went relatively fast, which my reading challenge needed, but it didn’t seem to leave a lasting impression. Have you read this series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.