Hooray! School is officially over for the term, Christmas is nearly upon us, and I can catch up on all the books I’ve been waiting to read! But first, I give you a particularly seasonal review… I bought Cold Spell in the wake of Disney’s Frozen, and last month (after having left it sitting on my shelves for a while) I decided that it was about time I finally got round to reading it. And let me tell you, I’m very glad I did!
Cold Spell is the fourth book in Jackson Pearce’s series of ‘fairytale retellings’, and this time we’re introduced to her take on Hans Christian Anderson’s story of The Snow Queen. Now I have to be honest and admit that the original isn’t a fairy tale I’ve as yet had the pleasure of reading, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this story at all. It’s totally original concept and one that provides a welcome escape from those gloomy autumn evenings. First off we’re treated to a fantastic prologue set in the past that really sucks you into the story. Jump ahead to the present day and we meet Kai and Ginny. After being best friends for years their relationship has grown into something more romantic, and they are busy making plans to run away together. But everything changes when ‘Snow Queen’ Mora walks into Kai and Ginny’s life with a plan of her own.
Mora was a fantastic antagonist. She was a complex character with believable motivations for her somewhat twisted actions. I enjoyed reading the chapters from her perspective just as much as I did Ginny’s. Speaking of Ginny, her character growth throughout the novel was extremely satisfying to read about. She starts out as helpless; someone who is very reliant on Kai, partly because of the absence of her parents. We can see that she’s willing to do anything for her boyfriend, and put all of his needs before her own to the extent that she hasn’t ever considered a life for herself without him. But her experiences change her into a strong, independent girl who realizes that she can stand on her own two feet and make it in the world on her own. She chooses a new family for herself as the story progresses, and learns that sometimes you just have to put yourself first, even if it means making sacrifices.
I have to say that I loved all of the elements that were at play in this novel, even the romance, which is at the heart of the plot. Kai and Ginny’s love for one another is already strong when the book starts, but through flashbacks we get the benefit of witnessing its development. And thank god for the lack of love triangles! Praise Jackson Pearce for her ability to focus on more than boys squabbling over a girl! Ginny also forms some other really important relationships. I loved the Reynolds’, with their resourcefulness and willingness to show Ginny the sort of kindness she hadn’t experienced before, and I came to quite like Flannery, a gutsy girl from a group of travellers.
This was mostly just little things, but they were things that stuck out to me. The first of which: the number of times the word ‘monochrome’ was used. I know it sounds petty, but it made me roll my eyes a little. Seriously, it’s not that hard to look up an alternative in a thesaurus!
Then there’s Ginny’s obsession with rushing headfirst into danger, justified only by the tired old line of ‘this is something I have to do myself’. Having the help of people you know and trust is a good thing, and protagonists need to learn this valuable lesson ASAP – so much unnecessary drama could be avoided.
And are you telling me that nobody ever gets frostbite, like, at all? Not once? Personally I’m not convinced, but whatever, there’s magic involved so I’ll cut Pearce some slack.
I would rate Cold Spell a magical four and a half out of five stars. So far I have only read the last two of Pearce’s four retellings, but now I’m really eager to read Sisters Red and Sweetly so that I can experience the series from the very beginning. I think there was a perfect balance of love, action and comic relief within this book, and I hope to find more of that balance in Pearce’s other works. I’m also excited to be able to link all of the allusions made in this novel back to her other books!