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White as Frost (The Darkwood Trilogy #1)
Anthea Sharp. Fiddlehead, $24.99 (366p) ISBN 978-1-68013-143-7
After her mother weds the king of Raine, Rosaline, 13, who has “sun-bronzed skin and kinky red-gold hair,” relocates from the “grand capital of Parnese” on the Continent to the island kingdom. Waiting there is a sullen, pale, red-lipped stepsister, Neeve, also 13; a mysterious forest; and a castle full of secrets. Rose’s love of adventure tales spills over into her inquisitive nature, and it isn’t long before she’s spying on Neeve as Neeve slips from the castle walls and into the Darkwood outside them. Home to magical and dangerous creatures, the Darkwood is protected by Thorne, a pale-skinned Dark Elf from Elfhame, but the woods seem to distrust Rose and attempt harm until Thorne takes her under his protection; with Neeve, they begin exploring Rose’s possible powers. The sisters’ friendship grows slowly, however, and when Kian, a blond, blue-eyed Fiordland prince arrives, tensions mount. Characterizations feel frustratingly vague, and plot points lack resolution by the cliffhanger ending. Still, Sharp interweaves welcome allusions to “Snow-White and Red-Rose” and adapts other fairy elements creatively; the world of the Darkwood and its denizens is distinctly drawn in this fantastical series starter. Ages 13–up. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 07/23/2021

Release date 05/01/2021

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