The Revenant meets True Grit with a magical twist in this thrilling and atmospheric debut fantasy about two teens who must brave a frozen wasteland and the foes within it to save their loved ones and uncover a deadly secret.
Everyone in Shadow Springs knows that no one survives crossing the Flats. But the threat of a frozen death has never deterred the steady stream of treasure hunters searching for a legendary prize hidden somewhere in the vast expanse of ice. Jorie thinks they’re all fools, which makes scavenging their possessions easier. It’s how she and her sister, Brenna, survive.
Then Jorie scavenges off the wrong body. When the dead man’s enemy believes Jorie took something valuable from the body, he kidnaps Brenna as collateral. He tells Jorie that if she wants her sister back, she’ll have to trade her for the item he thinks she stole. But how can Jorie make a trade when she doesn’t even know what she’s looking for?
Her only source of information is Cody, the dead man’s nephew and a scholar from the South who’s never been hardened by the harsh conditions of the North. Though Jorie’s reluctant to bring a city boy out onto the Flats with her, she’ll do whatever it takes to save her sister. But anything can happen out on the ice, and soon Jorie and Cody find they need one another more than they ever imagined—and they’ll have to trust each other to survive threats beyond their darkest nightmares.
I really enjoyed The Revenant and that combined with a western vibe and frozen wasteland made me curious about this book.
Talk about your high stakes. After Jorie’s sister, her only remaining family, is kidnapped, Jorie is determined to hunt down the person who took her and bring her home. It’s not a simple task. Not only does she have to trade an unknown item for her sister, she has to survive a journey of several days and nights in frozen tundra with minimal supplies, along with an inexperienced and unwelcome city boy companion just to get to her. The setting is a character in itself and has a big impact on this story. Trust me when I say you may need a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate while reading.
Jorie is a plucky MC and a survivor who’s suffered many losses in her young life. Other than the strong bond with her sister, she’s hardened herself to outsiders and has resolved not to let anyone in. Cody finds himself alone in the world after the death of his uncle and wants to avenge his death, although he’s far from equipped to do so. Watching him worm his way into Jorie’s cold heart was amusing, and found families are a favorite theme of mine.
Cody is a scholar and has studied tales of maps, treasures, beasts of snow and ice, and witches. Jorie heard these same stories during childhood and believes they’re only made up, but they come to figure prominently in the plot. Although hints about where the plot is leading are sprinkled throughout the book, something didn’t click for me. I felt like a piece of the puzzle that would tie everything together was missing. I don’t want to give away spoilers, and judging by other reviews I’m in the minority on this.
The pacing lags a bit in the beginning, but then takes off as Jorie and Cody embark on their harrowing journey filled with life-threatening obstacles. It’s an unusual blend of genres that I haven’t come across in YA, and a novel I enjoyed. I wouldn’t hesitate to read other books in the future by this debut author.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.