August 6, 2012

Recommend A... Book Someone Else Recommended to Me

Recommend A... is a new weekly feature hosted by Chick Loves Lit, where bloggers recommend a book based on a specific prompt. This week's prompt is to recommend a book someone else recommended to me.
The Spiritwalker Trilogy, #1
 It's partially due to this one good high school friend of mine that I've been reading YA fiction almost exclusively for the past six or so months. There are so many classics that I need to read, and I feel like those gaps in classical literature somehow make my English degree seem not as valid. A weird rationale on my part, I know. But after she told me how YA is where so many major advances in literature is these days and gave me a number of recommendations, I have yet to go back to classics. I won't give her all the credit, but I do respect her recommendations. She once said that she'd love to have a job where she simply read and recommend books to others, and she is very good at this.
Anyway, Cold Magic was one of the books she recommended to me at the very beginning of the year, and I am very glad she did. Cold Magic has a lot of the features I adore in my books. There's a strong female protagonist, a relationship built on misunderstanding and the gradual effort to remedy initial actions and feelings, a focus on a female relationship, and some crazy creative world-building.
Cold Magic is the story of Catherine and Beatrice Barahal, young scholars, cousins, and best friends. In their alternate universe, the Roman Empire lasted until the year 1000 and now, during another ice age in the nineteenth century, the European continent is settled and controlled by some historically repressed groups, such as Africans and Phoenicians. The central problem in Europa seems to be the struggle between magic and science/technology, between old ways of society and new ones. At the heart of the conflict are two groups: the Cold Mages and their houses versus the princely houses, which have between them most of the other people locked into a feudal-type system. When the Barahal family is called upon to redeem a promise made years ago to a Cold Mage house, Cat's life is turned completely upside-down. Cat is forced to question so many parts of her existence that she's taken for granted as she journeys across Europa. 

Although the book is marketed as steampunk, there really aren't that many technological innovations or references. But despite that, this story is so immersive. Cat is a strong believable heroine who is literally fighting for her survival. But at the same time her thoughts are much more focused on her cousin Beatrice and she worries about Bee's safety. For the majority of the book Cat and Bee are separated, so it speaks to the power of Cat's feelings that I still got a really good sense of their relationship and how important they were to one another. I loved how the story uses Cat and Bee's relationship to question the extent of love and friendship and family, and what one's priorities are in the face of hard decisions. Of course, there's also a romantic relationship here that seems pretty promising. I'll just end with one final reason that Cold Magic is awesome: sentient dinosaurs! (I may have initially thought that they were birds...) Okay, maybe they are not as interesting in the book as other aspects but, still, they're cool.
This is a rather lengthy book and doesn't always have the fastest pacing; it is definitely deliberate and subtle in its nature. But becoming immersed in Cat's world is worth it.
author image


Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. Another blogger friend really loves these books and I really hope I get around to reading them soon. They sound super great and um, what? DINOSAURS? Bumping this up on my list!

    1. You really should! I haven't gotten around to the second one yet, but I plan on it soon. Although I was initially drawn to the story after hearing about the great female friendship, the dinosaurs are cool haha.


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I strive to make my blog the very best it can possibly be and I appreciate each and every comment on here.