A peasant girl in 11th-century Russia must learn to harness her power over ice.
Katya is ostracized in her village because of her ability to freeze, becoming ice—and when she loses her temper and her power kills someone she loves, she is arrested. Katya fears a death sentence at the hands of the notoriously cruel prince, but she soon learns that he wants to use her magic as a weapon in a coming war. Not only that, but the prince has a special elemental power too, an affinity with fire that provides a foil for Katya’s ice exactly as narrative convenience requires. Katya hits all the chosen-one marks that this genre demands—mysterious and magical parentage, the death of a beloved mentor, learning to accept the power within oneself—and no avid fantasy reader will be surprised by the plot’s turns. All characters are assumed white except for a brief reference to a brown-skinned spring goddess, and the narration conflates fairness with beauty. The writing style is confident and plot-focused, although it veers into a strangely stilted quality in much of the dialogue. Vivid descriptions, especially of luxurious tents and traditional dresses, offer a pleasantly rounded sense of detail.
A paint-by-numbers fantasy rendered in pretty winter colors. (author’s note, glossary) (Historical fantasy. 13-18)