In this series opener, a magical kingdom is cursed with perpetual winter, and its only hope for redemption is…a teenage mental patient.
Locked in Whittaker Psychiatric Institute since the age of 5, Snow Yardley’s lonely life is bearable only because of her friend and fellow inmate Bale, with whom she shares her first kiss. When Bale mysteriously vanishes from the asylum, Snow’s quest to save him leads her into Algid, a fairyland besieged by the father she never knew, the power-hungry King Lazar. According to an oracle’s prophecy, Snow’s return will either break her father’s wintry curse or provide him with enough power to subdue Algid forevermore. Leaving her dystopian Oz for this contemporary retelling of “The Snow Queen,” Paige (Yellow Brick War, 2016, etc.) gifts readers with a blonde, white heroine intent on saving herself and whose rebelliousness and hotheadedness feel all too real. The early chapters set in Whittaker are beautifully textured, but the transition into the magical realm is muddled, setting a tone for the worldbuilding that feels rushed. While the Snow-Bale romantic relationship is genuinely rendered, budding tension between Snow and Kai, an Algid engineer she encounters, seems perfunctory. The most intriguing aspect of Algid is that magic is controlled by emotion, enabling the author to address the fact that wielding power has real consequences.
Fans of Paige’s Oz series hoping for a similar experience will not be disappointed. (Fantasy. 14 & up)