The very name of Kate Avery Ellison’s “Frost” makes me shiver. Her newest novella — just shy of novel length at 47,000 words — paints a cold, icy world full of monsters that haunt the darkness. The very culture of the Frost’s inhabitants consists of engrained, almost ritualistic behaviors that protect them and allow them to survive the harsh world.
When Lia’s parents are killed by the Watchers — the monsters in the forest — she is left to care for her crippled brother and younger sister. Lia doesn’t have time for socials or courtship or fun as she struggles to meet quota and keep her family together. Any misstep and the village Elders will separate them. So when her sister finds a young man bleeding in the woods, a man from beyond the Frost, Lia must decided whether to stick to the rules or risk everything to save a life. She chooses life, even though sheltering the “Farther” could get her in serious trouble.
Every choice Lia makes leads to a new discovery that challenges the world she was raised in and the nature of her society. It is within these revelations that the true beauty of Ellison’s writing can be found. Her storytelling is fluid and each scene, every interaction and event serve a purpose in fulfilling the greater story arch. Tension, fear, even love radiates from the writing in a way that doesn’t overshadow the story, but has you rooting for Lia, her family, her friends, and the Farther, Gabe, as they struggle to survive.
If you’re good at guessing endings, I can guarantee you won’t see this ending coming, although you’ll realize that all the pieces of the greater picture are present throughout the book. If you love mystery, if you love twists, if you love great writing, Ellison’s “Frost” is one to read — I even plan to read it again.
Edition available in e-Book and paperback.