Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea.
There, a little boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them... and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.
But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash.
When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he's whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family . . . ?
Jamie is an author-illustrator who graduated from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth in 2008, going on to win a High Commendation in the Macmillan Children's Book Award. When not trying to tame his unnaturally fast growing hair or having staring matches with next door's cat, he likes drawing, colouring in, cutting things out and sticking things in. He sometimes uses a scanner and a computer, and too often is tempted to throw his printer out of the window. But he would just have to go and pick it up again. His interests are pretty wide and varied -- although he does have a soft spot for wild animals and things that go bump in the night. Jamie's illustration work includes Hamish and the Worldstoppers which was the bestselling children's debut of 2015 and Wilf the Mighty Worrier, shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Book Awards. Frostheart is his first foray into writing fiction.
This is my favourite children's book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
That's a huge claim to make, but hear me out. I read a lot of children's books / middle grade and it's quite possibly my favourite type of book. What I love about children's books is the whimsical and magical nature about them, all the while demonstrating to us the importance of family and friendship - as well as believing in oneself. 'Frostheart' by Jamie Littler demonstrates all this and more, with a colourful cast of characters led by our hero Ash, who is one of the most likeable heroes in children's fiction of recent memory.
Ash lives in a world where strongholds are scattered throughout the snow sea, snow that is inhabited by Leviathans - monsters that can sometimes be controlled by Song Weavers. And guess what? Ash is one of those Song Weavers, he has a rare, magical ability that allows him to connect with Leviathans, except the power can be unstable and unpredictable - sometimes the Leviathans can connect with Song Weavers too, and potentially control and possess them. It's no wonder Ash is despised and feared by everyone in the Fira stronghold. Ash's parents have been missing for years, and only Tobu, his yeti guardian, seems to tolerate him. One day, Ash saves the crew of the Frostheart - pathfinders that roam from stronghold to stronghold, always chased by those pesky monsters. But saving the crew means banishment from the stronghold, and thus begins Ash's magical journey to find his parents, rumoured to also be Song Weavers.
Okay, enough of the synopsis (that sounds amazing right?!?!) and get straight into the review. I... LOVED THIS BOOK! I knew I would going into it based on the premise, but oh my does this book deliver on that promise of being Frozen meets Nevermoor meets How to Train Your Dragon!
Firstly, the characters are fantastic. Firstly we have Ash, our hero, who you can't help but fall in love with from the first page - a boy who understands he has a power that makes him hated, and you can't help but feel sympathetic towards him. There were times when I just wanted to take Ash out of that cruel world and comfort him, and it takes a little while before we have another character who is willing to give him a chance. Tobu, his yeti guardian, is a fierce, standoffish warrior who reluctantly takes Ash under his wing. Seeing these two characters develop is beautiful, because we go from that reluctance of both being around each other, to them both protecting each other - and even growing to care for each other. Tobu is such a fantastic character that we see brief hints of his backstory but we don't get the full picture - such a tease!
The crew of the Frostheart are charismatic and they add another dimension to this epic adventure. Captain Nuk is fierce and can be very challenging, but you see how much she loves and cares for everyone on the Frostheart. Lunah is a girl around Ash's age who comes to be his best friend, and honestly their friendship is magic, and it made my heart so happy to see Ash have someone who liked him. Other crew members, including the mysterious Shaard, all have their own personalities that help you differentiate them, so when they run into constant trouble with the Leviathans (and other dangers), you're left in suspense wondering if they're going to make it out alive. It felt a little Treasure Island-esque.
The story is so fun and the pacing keeps you wanting to finish the book in one sitting. We have Ash looking for his parents and using a song they left him to decipher, so the mystery element is very prominent and we root for him to find his parents. We're not sure who to trust or how the story is going to go, but it keeps you reading on - the chapters are short and the illustrations keep the momentum so that you really feel like you're aboard the Frostheart yourself, and before you know it, you've reached the end.
And speaking of the illustrations, I have a proof copy of this book, so the illustrations are not actually finished, but oh boy do they look gorgeous already. About half the book was filled with gorgeous illustrations by Jamie Littler himself, who is able to show you his world, his characters, in the most beautiful drawings I've seen in a children's book in a long time. It is special that the author himself has done this because it feels authentic and all the more magical. I cannot wait to see the finished product.
Considering the way the story builds, the final act is very exciting. I love that a showdown with a villain towards the end isn't resolved quickly (like in most children's books I have read), it's drawn out and exciting and not so easy for our hero. Seeing the growth to that point had a lot of power, and now I eagerly await the next instalment - which I hope is coming sooner rather than later.
I hate that I've finished this book because now I have to wait for the next one, but also I'm so glad and grateful that I have read this. If you're looking for a book that is full of magic and excitement, then look no further than Frostheart. It has a rich world filled with likeable characters and sinister villains, and I could not help but fall in love. A solid 5-star read.
Thank you Penguin Huddle for sending me my new favourite book. As a children's bookseller at Waterstones I was sent this book, so this is an honest review. Frostheart comes out October 3rd!
*Rated 4.5/5 stars! (revisiting this to finally give a review lol) You can hear more thoughts via my booktube channel in my November Wrap Up
I was so impressed with this book! I wasn't sure if it would edge onto the side of middle grade books I don't like reading as an adult, but nope - I was wrong. I haven't read too many middle grades, but this is one of favourites from the bunch!
Ash is just one of those characters you can't help feeling for. He's such a little cinnamon bun of a character, just wanting answers about who he is and resisting the urge to do what he longs for most, not understanding why everyone fears him. You can't help but root for him as he takes on dangers beyond what he could have imagined. And the character development through this book is one you can't help but be proud of, fictional character or no. Add to that the eclectic array of side characters, each with a very distinctive personality, and you have a treat of a story to follow.
The world is one that stood out to me, with its various strongholds and cultures dotted around this snowy country. I loved seeing how each stronghold differed from another, the different attitudes and beliefs of each one being shown clearly without being overwhelming for a younger reader. And all done so without repetition! Often, reading a middle grade as an adult can prove tedious for its repetitiveness employed for younger audiences, but this book managed to carry across the important details without repeating things constantly. All was cleverly hidden in the plot, dialogue being driven towards the important details where need be, and the rest falling into place effortlessly.
I really enjoyed everything about this. The only reason it's not entirely a five star is my personal reading tastes, a snowy polar setting often missing its mark with me. That being said, the atmosphere, plot, and characters were all something I fully enjoyed journeying along with, and I'd highly recommend this one!
First Read: September 2020, Rating: 5/5 stars Second Read: January 2023, Rating: 5/5 stars
This is the first instalment in the Frostheart series.
Ash has a song inside of him. The only issue with this is that the very tune that constantly reverberates around his brain and allows him to recall the gentle touch of his missing parents, strikes fear into the hearts of his community, where such a song is outlawed. Great beasts lurk around their stronghold's confines and their songs sing of death to all humans who fall into their monstrous clutches. Ash's song allows him to somewhat communicate with their fearsome foe, but the unpredictable nature of these tuneful powers are the very reason it is so feared and distrusted. And now that fear and distrust has been transferred to Ash.
Cast out of his community, Ash finds a new home on board the Frostheart, a ship that roams across the snowy landscape and between each distant stronghold. There, along with his yeti guardian to watch over his ever move and a new best friend to help him escape the eyes watching him and fall into no end of mischief instead, he learns more about his powers, the secrets of his past, and who he really is.
I have exactly zero negative comments to make about this book. The middle grade genre is constantly full of magical surprises and this was definitely one of them. Despite the younger age range this was aimed towards, I found the plot endlessly intriguing, the narrative turns unguessable, and the entire cast lovable, adorable, and hilarious in equal measures.
Jame Littler's tale was accompanied alongside his own illustrations, which featured on almost every page and perfectly encapsulated the snowy setting, the whimsical story-line, the madcap adventure, the somewhat murky atmosphere, and the darling essence of each character.
Frostheart follows the story of Ash, a young boy with the ability to 'song weave', and communicate with the dangerous Leviathan monsters who hunt and destroy the people of his world. Song weaving is forbidden within his isolated Stronghold, and on discovering his secret, he is forced into exile aboard the Frostheart, a Pathfinder sledge manned by a crew of misfits who travel between Strongholds delivering supplies and fighting the Leviathans amongst the barren and dangerous frozen plains. In joining the crew, Ash sets out on a journey of discovery to find his missing Pathfinder parents and follow the lullaby that is the only reminder of his family. It's a story full of wintery goodness, adventure and mystery, and woven with beautiful illustrations (drawn by the author himself) throughout. I particularly liked the depictions of the various songs, which changed depending on the emotions of the weaver, going from star-lit, lyrical and undulating to harsh, jolting and black. Visually this was lovely to see, and really helped in my understanding of the magical system. It was beautiful and powerful at the same time, and really packed a punch.
It's also a wonderfully crafted world, built around an aura of the mysterious 'World Before', and it's hidden ruins and towers that are scattered throughout the known world. We are only given little glimpses into what the world was like before the current harsh environment, with various bits of old archaic technology and stories that are hoarded by crew member Shaard, who passes some of this knowledge onto Ash. We never get to see what caused the world to be how it is, but this adds to the mystery and helps build atmosphere. We're given enough to keep us interested, and desperate for more, much like Shaard himself. We also follow Ash as he travels between several various Strongholds and the different tribes that live within them. Each has their own distinct voice and characterisation, with the Vulpis being a particularly favourite of mine. They're essentially little foxes who are easily distracted by shiny metal things.
I also really liked Ash as a character. He's naive, but he's also a child desperate for freedom after a childhood growing up as an outcast. He's different, and the Fira Stronghold doesn't like different. This desperation leads him to believe he's old enough to branch out on his own and make his own decisions, when in reality he needs guidance and to learn to listen - not only to the world weave, but his mentor, the grumbling yeti Tobu. I really liked the relationship between Ash and Tobu. They're a dysfunctional father and son team, forced together through obligation that must learn to coexist together. There's a lot that each of them can learn from the other as the story progresses. I also liked Ash's relationship with his fellow Frostheart crewmates, especially navigator Lunah. Yes, I'm biased by the name, but Lunah is a great example of what Ash could have been if he hadn't been left behind by his parents. She's a great friend, nonjudgemental (most of the time) and loyal. She also likes to hang off ropes constantly and has a cool cloak covered in constellations. She's hard not to love, as are the rest of the crew. They feel like a family unit, and that makkes the reader warm to them and their adventures.
I think my only bugbear for the whole story is Captain Nuk. She's captain of the Frostheart. And a giant female walrus. The only time I was thrown out of the story was following her first introduction. I just wasn't expecting a walrus character after being introduced to Ash's tribe, which consisted of humans and one Yeti. It was unexpected, and to me felt a little unnecessary. She could have just been human? We're also not introduced to her 'tribe' throughout the story either, so she's just out there as a walrus without any backstory or explanation behind it. I also found the ending a little sudden, with a lot of unanswered questions. I know there's going to be a sequel, but I would have liked things to have been tied up a little more to my satisfaction.
That said, this is an excellent middle grade book filled with a great dose of enchantment and adventure with magical characters. Highly recommend.
pitching a book as "Nevermoor meets Frozen with a dash of How to Train Your Dragon" is bound to set some Lofty expectations. it was adorable and the world-building was top-notch, sure, but i was a little underwhelmed
This was a really cute middle grade that I read quite fast. For some reason between the story, the characters, the atmosphere, and the illustrations, I couldn't help but be reminded of "Avatar: The Last Airbender". Although the two are very different, I couldn't help but think of that show repeatedly while reading this book.
The illustrations spread throughout the book really added to the overall reading experience of this story.
I think that I will continue this series. Admittedly, I'm not the targeted audience for this series and for that reason, I think my rating may be lower than this book potentially deserves. I do think that this book would be fun for younger readers.
This was such a fun-filled and lovable novel! I loved the adventure, the jokes, and especially the loyalty and friendship! Ash is adorable, and I love everything about him! I cannot wait to get my hands on a finished copy to see the rest of the illustrations that were not yet made for this proof, and I also look forward to the next book in this series (though I know it will be quite a while). I thought the writing was so magical and imaginative that I was completely pulled into the story every time I picked up the book again!
This is a Fantasy Middle Grade book, and this is the first book in the Frostheart series. I found parts of this book really interesting, but I found other parts confusing. I wished the characters where more developed, and I felt more for the characters. The magic in this book was also confusing, and I do not think it was really developed. Overall, I just felt this book was okay. I wanted more from this book.
'Clinging to a painful past will only poison the present. But the future is still there to be made'.
***MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD***
It's November. What better time to snuggle by the space heater with a middle-grade book about snow and adventures and magic? Actually, to tell you the truth, I had to read Frostheart for work, and probably wouldn't have thought to pick it up otherwise, but all the same. November is a good time for cosy book reading.
This book, with its colours and its artwork, is probably the most beautiful I've bought all year, and I love a good middle-grade fantasy as much as the next person, so I was quite looking forward to reading Frostheart. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to its gorgeous cover. My main issue is that it wasn't middle-grade. It was a children's book. The main character seemed to be about 11 or 12, but it read like a book for younger children. I didn't massively enjoy Frostheart, and I don't know whether it's because it wasn't a good book, or if I was just too far from the target audience, but if you're feeling generous, you can go with the latter.
- The concept was so original - if Frozen didn't already exist, I'd say it could be the plot of a Disney or Pixar film or something. Genuinely, I loved the idea of our world being covered in snow, of new civilisations (or 'Strongholds') springing up amidst the mountains and forests, of sleighs traversing the snowy plains, in search of adventure. I also loved the idea of Song-Weaving, a complex, magical art, which involves communication through auras. What world-building there was was also very well done, in terms of learning about the different Strongholds, and the people who lived there, each with their own beliefs, traditions, spirits, and festivals.
- The character diversity was brilliant - because the Frostheart crew had been gathered from all different Strongholds, we had characters of different ages, races, genders, and even species. So I think anyone reading Frostheart would feel represented, even if they're a walrus, or miniature fox.
- I couldn't post this review without mentioning the STUNNING artwork. Not only is there the glorious, shiny, colourful cover, but even the page edges were sprayed dark navy, with nordic looking silvery patterns. And all that before you even open the book! The pages are filled with drawings of the characters, the creatures, and the landscapes. And they're all done by the author himself. It's evident that Jamie Littler has poured his heart and soul into bringing the story to life.
- I quite liked Ash, our protagonist. Even though he could be naive, and occasionally bratty, I liked that he was flawed, because it made him more believable. I especially loved his relationship with Tobu - his grumpy yeti guardian. They had an interesting dynamic, and I liked how they ending up becoming a (dysfunctional) family unit, after both losing the families they had.
- It was funny sometimes, which was a nice surprise. Not like laugh-out-loud funny, but there were a couple of lines that made me smile.
- Like I say, Frostheart was written for children, so I suppose it's not all that surprising that it was predictable. But man, was it predictable. I think even eight year old me would've had no trouble figuring out how things were going to play out. The ending, for example, took me by surprise just by how incredibly obvious it was. I'd actually written it off as a possible conclusion, because I thought surely, even in a children's book, the author isn't going to make the incredibly evil-seeming, dark, mysterious outcast, whom no one but Ash trusts, the villain is he? And it's not going to be written like some big reveal, even though everybody and their dog saw it coming from about a mile off, is it? But, alas, that is exactly what happened. I would've liked more twists and turns.
- I also had some issues with the pacing. The book is 439 pages long, so a decent length, but most of it was very slow, with lots of development, and not much actual plot. I found the first 3/4 of Frostheart kind of boring. The end of the book really picked up, and it was quite gripping in the last few chapters, but it was all so sudden. The climax of the book came way too quickly and abruptly, and just as soon as it came, it was very swiftly (and conveniently) over.
- Although there was a bit of world-building, and what was there was quite good, I felt that one of Frostheart's biggest problems was that a lot of things were unexplained. The Song-Weaving stuff, for example. I know that it was supposed to be all mysterious, a lost art, but it felt like the concept of humans and monsters communicating through song was flung in our faces, with no context. So, we first learn about auras, and how there are good auras and bad auras, and the auras can come together - either in battle or harmony - during the Song-Weaving. Towards the end of the book, we are shown that the auras can have full-on conversations, and so what the power of Song-Weaving actually means ends up getting lost and tangled up somewhere along the way. Also, some of the Pathfinder enemies are never given any background - the Leviathans being the main ones. So, they're monsters that hide in the snow, there are different kinds (Lurkers, Hurtlers, Gargants, etc.) and everyone is terrified of them, but what are they? Where did they come from? Can they think for themselves, or are they mindless killing machines? We never know. Same with the Wraiths - these horrifying pirate gangs, who make a brief appearance somewhere around page 292. What's their backstory? Who are they? What do they want? Again, it might've been quite interesting to know. I also would have loved to have heard a bit more about the World Before, and how it became the icy wasteland we see in the book.
- This last point is difficult to define. I just felt that Frostheart was lacking...something. It's a children's book about a group of adventurers in a sleigh, and it should've been absolutely delightful. But I just felt like it was missing some spark of joy, or charm, and it was a bit of a shame.
I'm sure I would've enjoyed Frostheart a whole lot more if I'd been seven or eight. Although it wasn't as cute and memorable as I was hoping, it wasn't without its good points, and I guess some people would find it magical, so if you're a child, or have a child, then I would 100% recommend this.
The idea is good, the illustrations are wonderful, but I wished I listened to the audiobook and flipped through the illustrations, I struggled to read it physically but then again that has been a struggle overall ever since I started making my way through Scribd's audiobooks. This is not on Scribd tho. Marking this as 2 stars with tentative plans to read the next book at some point next year, preferably as an audiobook.
Picture me as Stefan from SNL: This book has EVERYTHING!! Yetis, walruses, friendship, action, evil, and even floundering fish farts!!
Ash’s parents have left him in the Fira Stronghold for an eternity, promising they’d be back. He has been shunned by his people who are terrified of his Singing. When the Frostheart sleigh stops in to trade, Ash decides to go with them to follow the clues they left him in a lullaby.
I ADORED this book and I am SO EXCITED about having a favorite new series! Jamie Littler tells the perfect tale and it will resonate with anyone who has ever felt lonely or that they didn’t belong. His characters are truly one of a kind. While I did figure out who the “outcast” was, it is great fun getting there!! While I love the friendship between Ash and Lunah, my favorite characters are Tobu and Captain Nuk!!
Also, one of the clear strengths in my mind is that Jamie does his own illustrations. They are GORGEOUS!! Also, they are so lovingly done that, unlike other books, you don’t have to try and imagine what characters look like or are doing. EEEEE!! They make my heart happy!!
ARGH!! I have to wait to get through all the other clues before I can get to #2 (as IG sits there in my pile, mocking me)!!
Buy this for readers of every age to introduce them to this magical world! And, if you’re twisted, buy this for someone who will soon be traveling to a cold climate!!
DNF At 50% yeahhh no. This is just a poorly written book. The illustrations are great but the story needs help. List of things that don’t work/aren’t done well: characters, pacing, world building, the monsters, suspense, engagement. The story is just lacking overall I see no point in finishing it. I think the biggest mistake is there is too much telling not enough showing. Numerous times the main character has come to some revelation about his past just randomly and tells the reader without showing how he just all the sudden figured something out. Might’ve worked if this story was shorter. But the way it’s going I can’t see how this story could justify 400+ pages. Really a 1star read but I’ll give the extra star for the illustrations. That being said I think kids who are more naive readers might enjoy it.
I think the audio of this just didn’t work for me. I typically LOVE middle grade for my daytime audio, because it’s pretty safe with my kids around 🙃 and knowing OC’s picks have not let me down before (I grab them from my library) I was excited to read this one. But I struggled with the narrator’s accent, and his Tobu voice was super grating to me. Finally halfway and a month of picking it up and putting it down, I switched to the ebook and I’m glad I did! The illustrations are cute and I was able to finish the rest in one day.
I think the story honestly could’ve been a 4 had I just sat and read it from the beginning, but I just didn’t enjoy my reading experience this time.