Seventeen-year-old Smitha’s wealth, status, and beauty make her the envy of her town—until she rejects a strange man’s marriage proposal and disastrous consequences follow. Smitha becomes cursed, and frost begins to encompass everything she touches. Banished to the hills, hunted by villagers, and chilled to the very core of her soul, she finds companionship with Death, who longs to coax her into his isolated world. But Smitha’s desire for life proves stronger than despair, and a newfound purpose gives her hope. Will regrets over the past and an unexpected desire for a man she cannot touch be enough to warm Smitha’s heart, or will Death forever still it?
Sissy: Followed by Frost is such a different and unexpected story! I was immediately intrigued by how quickly spoiled Smitha’s deeds and attitude turn on her with a vengeance and how she is thrown into one of the worst situations imaginable. Certainly a horrible frosty curse is a great cure for brattiness! I don’t know how well received universal curses for impudent punk teenagers would be, but maybe it would make our world a less entitled place.
Bubby: It’s a very classic fairy-tale type of curse, too. Right up my alley. Can you imagine if you could just tap your sassy teenager and make it so that every unkind or whiny word out of their mouths for 24 hours turned into a slug or a snail? And they were the only ones who could clean up the mess? I think it would be good for everyone! Honestly, we could all use a bit of a cursing every once in a while to remind us of how to behave.
Sissy: Smitha’s journey is very difficult and long, unlike the more speedy uncursings and resolutions of other fantasy or fairy tale characters. That is more true to character for me as it does take a long time and hard circumstances to truly change most of the time. The first part of her cursing is almost too uncomfortable to bear, and her suffering really got to me. Also Sadriel, who is death, really drives me quite batty. I wanted to kill him, but how do you kill death?
Bubby: Yes, Death/Sadriel was a disturbing character. I wanted more interaction with him at the same time that I dreaded each of his scenes. If ever Charlie N. Holmberg writes another book in this same world, I hope that Death shows up and we get to see more of what has to be a very complex character. Everything else about Followed by Frost is so well done and so perfectly crafted that I felt as if I was reading a classic fairytale that had been lost somehow and only revealed now.
Sissy: A lost classic, perhaps, but with a complexity and depth not found in the usual fare. I was so gratified with the appearance of Imad and his king. They brought change and a sense of hope to Followed By Frost that Smitha (and I) desperately needed. The last third and subsequent ending of the tale are fantastic, well imagined, and fantastically written. I loved Charlie N. Holmberg’s Magician series, and although Followed By Frost is an entire departure from that, I completely enjoyed its refreshing uniqueness. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Bubby: I just can’t get enough of Holmberg’s writing. I need to meet her in person and shower her in chocolate just so she knows how much I love her stories. (Wait, is that creepy? Oh, well.) As with everything Holmberg has written, I love love love Followed by Frost and I was sad when I’d read the last word. So good!