Title: The Frost Fair
Author: Natasha Hastings
Series: The Miraculous Sweetmakers #1
Release Date: 27/10/2022
I received a free copy from HarperCollins Children ,via The Erite Reads in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
It’s winter, 1683, and the Great Frost has swept into London.
By day, thirteen-year-old Thomasina and her friend Anne peddle sweets on the frozen river, hearing rumors of the magical Frost Fair that awakens there at night. They say if you can find it, Father Winter himself will grant any wish you have.
And Thomasina has an impossible wish: the return of her twin brother, whose death left her family fractured.
But once they discover Father Winter’s icy kingdom, Thomasina and Anne quickly realize the Frost Fair isn’t exactly what it seems… and that some wishes never come for free.
I enjoyed this dark atmospheric middle grade fantasy. I really loved how much atmosphere was jam packed into this book, from both the historical descriptions of the mini ice age that froze the Thames and the reports of big fairs held on the frozen river, to the magical ice Frost fair that features through out them book. The descriptions are beautifully detailed, from the taste of the sweets to the chill of the winter. You really could feel the cold pouring from the page. It really made you want to wrap up under a blanket. The book is beautifully written in that way.
I also really loved the underlying theme of the book. There is an on page death in the first chapter and the book explores how grief effects different people and how they work through that grief. Because of this it can get quite dark in tone so I do think it is more for the older end of the middle grade market. The magic itself is also quite sinister feeling, but I really quite liked that.
One thing I found is this book seemed to be paced really slowly. It took a really long time setting up a lot of the world and it began to feel rather repetitive and it took quite a long time for the main plot elements to get started. Major elements that played into the plot didn’t arrive until after the half way mark so it at times felt like a bit of a slog to get through despite it all being interesting I just felt the plot could have been a bit snappier. I also found that despite there being lot of build up there were a few characters we really didn’t get to know much about and that was a little disappointing as I would have liked to have gotten more information on their past etc.
Also with how dark it began I was hoping for a somewhat darker ending but it wraps up very sweet for my personal tastes. I think this would make a fantastic winter read for and avid 9-12 year old reader. I think the historical elements would make for really interesting discussions too.