Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

10:00 AM

Title: Frozen (Heart of Dread #1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston
Release Date: September 17, 2013 (hardcover)
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 336
Source: ARC provided by publisher

Overall: 3.5 Stars

From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

My Thoughts:  
The first novel in the Heart of Dread series, Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston's Frozen is a promising introduction to a post-apocalyptic world where magic is slowly returning. The Earth we know is gone and in its place is a frozen landscape and a broken America torn apart by civil war.

The longer Natasha Kestal remains in New Vegas, the greater the threat that she'll be discovered as one of the marked, a feared group of people with mythical abilities. She's been hiding in plain sight by working as a blackjack dealer, but the military has been increasing their random tests. Desperate to get away when she sees her chance, Nat hires Ryan Wesson to take her to the rumoured paradise called the Blue where she hopes to find sanctuary.

Wes is the leader of a young crew of mercenaries who may lie, steal, and cheat in order to survive, but there are still lines he won't cross. He's skeptical that a place like the Blue could possibly exist, but he accepts Nat's payment for passage anyways. What follows afterwards is a fast-paced adventure that doesn't pause for a breath! There's an immediate attraction that sparks between Nat and Wes, but in their dangerous world, it's difficult to know who can be trusted.

Nat frustrated me at times when I read the novel. You can tell she's hiding a great deal of power, but she smothers and ignores it instead of exploring the possibilities. It's only when Wes tells Nat to believe in herself that she begins to find self-acceptance, that her abilities don't make her a monster. I just really wanted her to come to that conclusion on her own rather than being so dependent on Wes's opinion.

I had my suspicions about Nat's dark secret, but once the truth is finally revealed, the novel wraps up so quickly afterwards that you don't really get a moment to glory in the revelation. After such a great build-up, I felt rather cheated that what could have been an epic battle for the final climax was rushed and over before it really began. I wanted more description! My feelings for the ending aside, the Heart of Dread series has the potential to become amazing and I can't wait to see what's in store for the characters next in Stolen.

Thanks so much to Penguin Canada for providing this review copy!

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  1. Sounds interesting but I've given up on Melissa de la Cruz, I can't read her after the ending of blue bloods and witches of east end, I just can't.

  2. I quite enjoyed this one but I definitely know what you mean (about feeling cheated) I wish this book was a little bit longer. Or that I had waited for the sequel so I could read them back to back.