Book Review: Frostborn by Lou Anders
Genre: Fantasy, Young Readers (age 8-12)
Series: www.thronesandbones.com #1
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (August 5, 2014)
Author Info: www.louanders.com
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars:
I am a firm believer in learning something new every day, and this is one of the many places where Frostborn really shines.
Karn is a young Norrønir boy who shuns his father’s farm life and his responsibilities. He’d rather be playing his favourite strategy game, Thrones and Bones, than wielding a sword or haggling for food and supplies. Meanwhile, further north, Thianna is determined to prove herself every bit a giant, while hating the half-human part of her that makes her so obviously different. At the seasonal gathering where Norrønir and giants come together to trade, the two young ones meet and discover that they really don’t have anything in common except what makes them different. When circumstances later exile them from their respective worlds, they are forced to trust in each other, and in their own uniqueness to get themselves out of some pretty big trouble.
Right from the prologue, I was sucked in as Anders weaves a thrilling escape for a mysterious woman and the beast she rides, culminating in a very moving climax that promised that the rest of the book could only get better. While this is most certainly a children’s book, I really enjoyed Anders’ approach to its serious, painful and sometimes frightening elements. Anders, who has a young son and a daughter, is clearly writing for his children (and later realized he was writing about them), but the storytelling holds a sense of maturity that I think is sometimes lacking in books aimed at this age group (8-12). That’s not to say that the book is too “grown up.” The language is fun mix of classical and colloquial, there’s a sharp sense of wit and humour on display, and Thianna and Karn are definitely the kinds of kids a young reader can relate to. Anders eloquently balances the fun side of childhood, while respecting that quite often, kids know and understand quite a lot more than adults give them credit for.
I also loved the casual little interjections of trivia. I learned a few things from Anders’s little tidbits of information, and I know young readers would be just as fascinated by the knowledge. I am a firm believer in learning something new every day, and this is one of the many places where Frostborn really shines.
I expected Frostborn to end up being a typical buddy quest adventure, and while there were elements of that involved and implied for future books, I really loved the way Anders focuses on the kids separately as much as they are together. They each come to terms with their situations and its often after the moments of self-discovery that they are able to be of stronger aid to their friend. Together, they both remain unique and probably don’t agree on a lot of things, but there is a healthy level of respect for each other and their differences as they work toward resolving their problems.
Overall, a really impressive entry into the young readers fantasy genre that both kids and parents can have fun with and learn from. And then follow up family reading night with a game of Thrones and Bones!
With thanks to Crown Books and the author for providing an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.