Author: Ruth Lauren
Published: expected April 4 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
When Valor is arrested, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s sister Sasha is already serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.
Never mind that no one has escaped in three hundred years. Valor has a plan and resources most could only dream about. But she didn't count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.
This fresh and exciting middle-grade debut effortlessly melds an unforgettable protagonist, a breathless plot, and stunning world-building—and is impossible to put down.
Did you like Pixar's Brave and Merida, especially? Or the Anna and Elsa show aka Disney's Frozen? Well the stubbornness and archery angle of the first meets the impenetrable, enduring-even-the-depths-of-winter sister-bond of the second in Ruth Lauren's Prisoner of Ice and Snow. It's a fun, inviting story; Lauren mixes some great tropes into her writing and uses those tropes in fresh new ways. Prison Break-esque plotting and complex women are the norm for this fast-moving middle grade fantasy and are used to create an entertaining story and memorable characters.
The world is interesting and has potential; there's a vaguely Russian/Baltic feel to Valor's home country and surrounding states, but there's not much real worldbuilding done. The focus here is on Valor, her sister Sasha, and then their various allies and opponents. Though there is some atmosphere and tension to be found in the 280-odd pages, Prisoner of Ice and Snow is undeniably a more character-driven MG novel. The story is directly propelled by Valor and her refusal to give up on escape. She is the anchor of the story and it's easy to invest and care about her. A strong plot and better characters make up Ruth Lauren's debut more than worth a read.