Razorbill 2010 (this edition)
Frostbite is the second book in the Vampire Academy series and this review therefore contains spoilers for book one. You can read my review of the first title here. Go away and do that, read the book and then come back.
Frostbite starts with an useful prologue which basically provides a pretty thorough synopsis of what happened in Vampire Academy. Often when reading a series I find myself having to flick back to earlier installments to remind myself of relevant plot points. I'd love more prologues like this. In particular, the author quickly reminds us of the intricacies of the Vampire Academy world before jumping straight into the action in this, the second book of the series.
Plot wise, things pick up a notch with the book practically opening on the scene of a vicious and bloody Strigoi attack. This does two things: Firstly, it allows (admittedly through slightly contrived circumstances) the St. Vlad students to spend their winter break in a royal ski lodge along with most of the royal court. Secondly it throws the novice Dhampirs, and a few of the Moroi, into a tiz about taking the fight to the Strigoi – something that has always been completely vetoed when suggested. Rose's friend Mason is particularly desperate to prove himself against the Strigoi, but he is far from alone in this aim.
Rose herself is trying to relax in the knowledge that Lissa is getting help for her depression and that they have learnt a sufficient amount about elemental magic to prevent Lissa from doing herself further harm. However, through that ever handy psychic bond, Rose can sense that all is not entirely well with her best friend and this continues to niggle her. Rose has actually grown up a little in Frostbite. While still impulsive and snarky she has achieved a degree of self-control, mainly thanks to mentor Dimitri. Who she totally lusts after BTW. Their relationship is pretty complicated especially when you take into account the seven year age gap, which when considered alongside their student/mentor status is a tad dodgy. The pot is stirred further when Dimitri encounters a more age appropriate potential love interest.
Lissa spends the book pretty much wrapped up in her own love life. While love interest Christian continues to be an intriguing character, I started to go off Lissa a bit. She seems to take Rose for granted, expecting her to be around when desired but often deserting her in favour of Christian. Not cool, Lissa. Also, she seems a bit useless – floating through the book in a rather self-centred and ineffectual cloud. Hmmm. Perhaps she'll improve further down the road.
Mason plays a larger part in Frostbite. Yet despite his increased presence, he has largely been cast in the role of Plot Device although comes into his own (if briefly) during the gripping finale. There is also a new character in the delightful form of Adrian, a Moroi playboy who wafts in surrounded by a fug of smoke and booze fumes, merrily spouting gibberish. He is just my kind of crazy.
I enjoyed the setting and plot of Frostbite a lot. The ski lodge setting was very retro, reminding me notably of one of the Nancy Drew Files (different from the earlier Nancy Drew books because they all featured...whisper it...murder). This pleased me greatly. The change of setting was also a nice way of expanding the world away from St. Vlad's, giving readers an idea of the politics at work in the Moroi world. Mostly I was impressed by the dark tone of the story. For the first time, fearless Rose is faced with the reality of her profession and the author pulls no punches. Rose's reaction is at once believable and heart-wrenching. Great stuff!
Frostbite is available in shops now. Thanks to Puffin for sending me this title to review.