Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

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Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fab middle grade fantasy - it's been described as a cross between Frozen and Prison Break, which sounds about right!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408872757

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Valor is under arrest for the attempted assassination of Anatol, Demidova's Crown Prince. Queen Ana is furious and sentences Valor to life imprisonment in Tyur'ma - a brutal prison constructed of stone and ice...

... it's not sounding too great for Valor, is it? But the thing is, this is exactly what she had been hoping for and she's even prepared to risk her parents' respected positions at Demidova's court to achieve it. Because Valor's sister Sasha is already in Tyur'ma - accused of stealing a national treasure vital to cementing a peace treaty between Demidova and a neighbouring nation. Valor is convinced of her sister's innocence and intends to break her out.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy and Valor's carefully-crafted escape plan will face many setbacks, especially when she can't know who to trust, the prison is full of spies and the palace is rife with plotters...

I loved this middle grade fantasy. The worldbuilding is fabulous and very organic - Lauren doesn't waste time with endless pages of exposition but you can feel the vivid, lively busy-ness of the city and the cold, harsh environment of Tyur'ma prison just as if you were there. But the best thing about it is that Lauren has created a matriarchal society - and feels no need to explain it! Hooray! The monarchy of Demidova is matrilineal. Valor and her mother serve the crown as hunters - when many readers may have pre-conceptions that this is a masculine profession. At no point are we told that this world is - shock, horror! - run by the women. It just is. It's such a positive message to send - women in important positions isn't weird or strange, female central characters aren't defying anything to be central, they just are. And the male characters aren't relegated to passive, useless beings either. A big thumbs up from me to Ruth Lauren for giving all her readers - boys and girls - a world that challenges gender stereotypes.

Some of the secondary characters are a little bit undeveloped. I would liked to have known more about the surly Natalia, for example. But we're getting a second book, so I'm hoping some of the rest of the cast will be fleshed out as we go along.

Prisoner of Ice and Snow is a fab little book. It gets straight to it and doesn't waste our time with infodumps. It has a great central character and a well-realised world we can really see in our minds. And it has some positive messages about gender stereotyping. Middle grade fans of fantasy are going to love it. Roll on, book two!

Katherine Langrish's Troll series is another of our favourite middle grade fantasies. And don't forget Monster Blood Tattoo by D M Cornish.

Buy Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren at

Buy Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren at


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