FIREBLOOD (Frostblood #2) - by Elly Blake

FIREBLOOD - Elly Blake
Published: 2018 - Hodder Paperbacks 
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / romance
Pages: 416.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild fantasy violence
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby's powers and past.... Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fireblood queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax - which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, how can Ruby decide whom to trust? The fate of both kingdoms is now in her hands.

I buddy-read this book with my wonderful friend Di from Book Reviews By Di. We both felt similarly about the book, and you can check out her review HERE!

I absolutely love Blake's descriptions. They are gorgeous and vivid, with beautiful, unique language that stops just short of flowery. I adore the tangibility of every description. I think Blake writes them so well. I'm not mad on the writing, but it's easy to read.
That said, the dialogue is awful. There's no wit or spark to any of the characters' conversations and it's like the author's more concerned with getting information across than she is about the characters' personalities leading the interactions. It's aggravating.

Despite being rather predictable, the plot is a lot better than it was in the first book. It's enjoyable and fun. But unfortunately, the cliches are still there. There's nothing new to this fantasy story, nothing we haven't seen before, and a lot of the directions this book takes (namely Kai's role and Ruby's trials) feel like a lazy way out of creating something original and fresh. It's still fun, but it's also disappointing because it's uninspired.
The pacing isn't bad, though. And the end climatic fight is brilliant. But the plot did give me a lot of mixed feelings, and I just wish it was more original.

Petals like white wood shavings rose above gently curling stems, and shrubs flaunted leaves in the most delicately crocheted lace. Tall feathery fronds drowsed over tightly woven packs of icy rosebuds....Miniature trees with translucent trunks etched in a frosty wood-grain pattern sported flat, veined leaves and peach-shaped globes. Icy crystals hung like frozen tears from every branch and stem.

To look at the positives first, I love Marella's character and her arc. Her role in the story starts off a bit stereotypically, but she soon comes into her own. I like her character.
Ruby also gets good character development. She has a few big "realisation" moments in terms of discovering who she really is, and I love that we get to see that. But at the same time, she's also very much The Chosen One. That annoys me. I don't like how she's leaning toward becoming a special snowflake, and I also think she could use more flaws - and more enemies. She's too much on a pedestal. It's cliche.

The secondary cast isn't great and no one is particularly memorable. Kai's character - a rougish, witty, arrogant Prince come Privateer - is a stereotype, but I don't dislike him. He's just very predictable and stereotypical.

I'm not shipping anyone, to be honest. The love triangle is completely unnecessary. Arcus is a bit of an idiot in this book, and Kai is a cliche. It's not easy to root for either of the relationships Ruby gets into.

Fireblood is a solid sequel and one that improves marginally upon the first book. But the cliches are too overwhelming, and the plot lags more than it flies.  It's enjoyable, but it's not amazing. 


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