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Frozen Sun Saga #1

Beasts of the Frozen Sun

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Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people's souls, to see someone's true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland--one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun--Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he's been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira's life, for Reyker's soul, and for their peoples' freedom has only just begun.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published August 6, 2019

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About the author

Jill Criswell

4 books171 followers
Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 262 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,960 followers
March 31, 2019
First off, I'm so in love with the cover of this book I can't hardly stand myself!

I'm going to leave the book review at 3 stars for now, but will probably read it again when the book is released. I loved the story line. I loved Lira and Reyker as well as a few more side characters in the book. I just felt like there was something missing or too much of one thing.

There is a bit of grimdark in this book and some things are graphic more so than others. I loved the mythology and the feeling I was watching an episode of Vikings at times. The thing is, the story felt like it was going in a loop. I wanted Lira, Reyker and a few others to get off the island and continue on with what they need to do. They just continued to get into trouble, get caught, get away, sneak around, get caught, get into trouble.....

Now even though people wandered around and things and people were killed here and there; there is still a great story there, in my opinion. Lira and Reyker are linked together for reasons and I'm hoping there is going to be a big ole otherworldly romance at some point. I mean as well as all of the killing and revenge and stuff =)

Overall, I liked it good enough for 3 stars and will continue on with the series and see what happens with all of his chaos that is going on with everyone!

*Thank you to Netgalley and the Pub for a digital copy of this book for review.*

Mel ♥

Profile Image for Lucie V..
1,014 reviews2,066 followers
September 7, 2023
✅ Viking inspired
✅ Mythology and special powers
✅ Good characters
✅ Realistic, slow-paced romance
🆗 Predictable plot and romance
❌ Repetitive plot

I enjoyed reading this book, but it was nothing really new. A girl saves an enemy coming from a faraway land, hides him, and heals him. They both learn to know and trust the other and of course, trouble comes for them. Nothing in the story was really surprising or unexpected, but it is still a good book.

The mythology holds a big part in this story. Not only because of the folklore and the beliefs of the people but because real Gods actually mingle and interfere in their lives. Some humans, like Lira, are God-gifted (only one in each clan for each generation though). Lira is a soul-reader, meaning that she can read the soul of someone when she has skin contact. It helps her decide who to trust and who not to trust (and of course it helps her build a relationship with the mysterious man that she decided to save - Reyker).

I liked Lira and Reyker, but it felt like they were going around in circles at some point. Get in trouble, get caught, escape, get into trouble again, sneak around, get caught, escape... I wanted Lira and Reyker to just leave everything behind and do what they actually needed to do to stop the big bad guy instead of waiting for things to get worse.

Despite that, Beasts of the Frozen Sun is a good story, the relationship between Lira and Reyker is smooth and well-paced. Not too fast, no insta-love, but more of a realistic discovery of each other. They learn to trust each other slowly and they discover that there is often more than what meets the eye.

I liked this book enough to read the second one when it comes out, but I will not rush to buy it as there is no big cliff hanger and even though I'm curious to see what will happen to the characters and how things will evolve, I can live with not knowing right away what happens.

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Profile Image for ʙᴇʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。..
200 reviews100 followers
January 31, 2019
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Meet the love child between Daughter of the Forest (Juliet Marillier) & Sky in the Deep (Adrienne Young):D Beasts of the Frozen sun is a fantasy inspired in Celtic and Viking mythology. We follow the journey of two enemies: Lira, the daughter of a Chieftain in an Ireland inspired setting and Reyker, a warrior from a far distant, cold land from a clan known as Beasts of the Frozen Sun, inspired in Nordic/Scandinavian setting. The premise is enemies-to-lovers so if you enjoy that trope you'll certainly like this one. It follows the struggle of war between two clans and also inserts supernatural deities that complicate the lives of the protagonists. Lira is a Daughter of Aillira, women who possess certain magical abilities, while Reyker does not have magic but its connected to it through Lira. They meet in unfortunate circumstances but they create a bond that develops from hate to trust and then finally attraction and love. I enjoyed the character's development and I really liked Lira and Reyker's relationship. It was slow burning, swoon-worthy and filled with consent and respect.
I can't say much more without being spoiler-ish. You might like this book if you enjoy star crossed lovers, angst and politics, war, fantasy, and romance.
TW: Death, Abuse, Mention of rape.
August 19, 2019
Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell

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Read the full review and more at Blame Chocolate.

☀️ A big thank you to Blackstone Publishing for the review copy. This has not influenced my opinion in any way. ❄️

When I started this book I couldn’t stop reading! There was always something going on, tons of action, plot twists, suspense, characters either being killed or under threat or running from something (or towards something)… I could hardly catch my breath.

The world-building was amazing, solid, and gradually unfolded before my eyes. The Celtic and Viking-inspired mythology was also brilliantly incorporated without sounding cliché, enriching the story even more.

The characters were another great part of this book: genuine and human and relatable. Even the villains were able to inspire fear within me and really feel for everyone’s safety.

If you adore family (and particularly siblings) dynamics, you’ll love Lira and the rest of the Stones, as well as her sisterly devotion to her childhood best friend. I wished we’d been able to spend more time with them, but there was a lot of pressing matters to attend to!

The romance was lovely but while it tortured me for the longest time and made me crave for it non-stop, it didn’t actually culminate in the most satisfying way, which was a bit disappointing. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t find them incredibly swoony and want to find out what happens in book two!

Overall, I absolutely recommend this! It reminded me of my favourite Juliet Marillier novels which, if you haven’t read yet, are totally missing out…

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
965 reviews1,248 followers
July 26, 2019

Title: Beasts of the Frozen Sun
Series: The Frozen Sun Saga #1)
Author: Jill Criswell
Release date: August 6, 2019
Cliffhanger: Yes
Genre: YA fantasy

You wield the lost sword of the Frozen Sun. A weapon of the Ice Gods in the hands of the Green Gods’ soul-reader. ’Tis a story poets will pen, a tale fit for the scriptures.”

This book sounded right up my alley and I couldn't wait to get started on it. A historical setting with clans, warriors, forbidden love, God gifted women with unique powers, and an epic battle for freedom? Sounded like a grand adventure. It started out very strong, and while I liked a lot of elements in the plot, from a technical standpoint there were some things that didn't add up. One thing that did work in a big way was the forbidden romance, which ended up being my favorite thing about the book.

Lira lives in Glasnith, a community composed of many clans. Her grandfather is the chieftan of clan Stone, and upon his death, it will pass on to another male in her family. There is a lot of speculation who that will be, but as a female, Lira has two "options." Marry a highborn man of her father's choosing, or pledge herself to Aillira's Temple, a sanctuary where god-gifted women could study and hone their abilities. So though many women were clearly honored by their gods, the men failed to do so. They were simply used for their own gain. Lira in particular is used cruelly by her father for her gift of reading souls. She's nothing more than a tool for him to ascertain whether an accused is guilty or innocent, and she feels tremendous guilt for her part in condemning people to death.

Reyker is a savage marauder who has taken part in raids along the coast of Lira's land. In the prologue you see the devastation he causes along with the other warriors fighting for "the Dragon." Right away you realize that he's there against his will, and there is a glimmer of good inside him. It's just been suppressed under years of death and darkness and he no longer knows how to find his way out. When he washes ashore after his ship is attacked by a sea creature, Lira recognizes him as the man who once helped her escape the Dragon. Out of obligation she reluctantly takes him to a secluded place to nurse him back to health. Theirs wasn't an instant friendship, there was naturally a lot of distrust and animosity on her part. Knowing he was a Westlander, or what her people call a beast of the frozen sun, his kind is reviled by her clans. Legends called them monsters birthed by leviathans, not even considered human.

As Drakon starts to infiltrate their land, pillaging with the intent to conquer, her clan is suddenly in need of a new chieftan. This is where everything starts to implode. The god they worship is summoned to choose a new leader, but with that choice, dissent and scheming runs rampant under the surface. The whole foundation of the gods they worship could be crumbling under their feet.

“You follow the Forbidden Scriptures. You worship the Fallen Ones. How do you know their version of the stories is true?” Were Aillira and Veronis heroes and Gwylor the villain, or was it the other way around?

Glasnith's only hope of protecting themselves is the man they call a Beast. A man who knows more about the enemy than anyone else and could help mobilize allies to come to their aid. I loved that he was a bit of an anti-hero. I think he was developed really well, and the author did a very good job of showing him in a way that draws your empathy. He's survived lots of tragedy, loss, and betrayal, and he was consumed with darkness because of it. Lira is a conduit back to the light. She digs through his layers and helps him to find the man he once was. Their faith and loyalty to each other in the face of her people's hatred was heartwarming.

This was more violent and bloody than I was expecting. The villain is a pretty chilling guy whom you can't wait to see brought down. As this is the first book in the series, of course we leave things at an unresolved place. It's a pretty strong cliffhanger, so be warned. Overall, there were a few things I loved, and some things that I felt could have used a better explanation or detail. However, the plot was fairly original and kept me guessing, so I really appreciated that. This was not a tame YA fantasy, so if you're looking for something a little grittier, this could be the book for you. Book two in the saga is set to release sometime next year.



Profile Image for Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen.
1,683 reviews600 followers
April 24, 2019
Book – Beasts of the Frozen Sun
Author – Jill Criswell
Series – Frozen Sun Saga #1
Cliffhanger? - Yes
Publication Date – August 6, 2019
Genre – YA Fantasy
Type – Double POV
Rating – 4.25 out of 5 Stars

Complimentary copy generously provided by the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts - Story
I immediately have to comment on how much I loved the bond that developed between Lira and Reyker. I absolutely LOVE books about enemies coming together as a love interest and this definitely happened in this book.

He (as an enemy) washes up on Lira’s shore and she takes care of him – this isn’t insta-love or even insta-trust – their relationship was slow building throughout the book which the author used a very “real life” development of these characters.

And I have to add that even the secondary characters were enjoyable and written with depth and life.

Reason for Reading – Requested from NetGalley
Story – 4 out of 5 Stars
Steam – 4 out of 5 Stars
Angst – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Writing – 4 out of 5 Stars
Content Flow – 4 out of 5 Stars
Would Read More from Author? Yes
Recommend To – Lovers of Fantasy with a believable romance
Profile Image for Liza ❤️LIBROCUBICULARIST❤️.
116 reviews20 followers
May 5, 2020
3.50 🌟

Jill Criswell undoubtedly nailed how Gods and Goddesses play with mortals on Beasts of the Frozen Sun! This is a fantasy based off of Celtic mythology and if you're a fan of the Vikings show.

This is a wonderful love story of Lira and Reyker who were doomed from the very beginning, as each belong in a different clan.

"You will chase what you cannot catch. You will love what you cannot keep, You will kill what cannot die."


💫Lira - a god-gifted soul-reader and daughter of Torin

💫 Reyker - a Westlander, Giants with hair like straw, eyes like water. The beasts of the Frozen Sun.

💫Torin - a chosen clan Chieftain by God of Death, Gwylor

💫Madoc - Torin's brother and Sons of Stone Commander

💫Draki - a Westlander demigod, daughter of Idja

However, it missed some mark and the author failed to create a more complex world for the characters. I just want the characters to get away from the Island and go to Iseneld already! There's definitely highs and lows in this book and I'm hoping that some of my questions will be answered in the sequel.

And I cannot wait for Lira's character to develop like Lagertha's and be as fiercesome as she should be.


Thank you Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with this e-arc to review.
Profile Image for - The Polybrary -.
329 reviews186 followers
September 23, 2019
~*Check out all my reviews over on The Bent Bookworm!*~
“He is everything you fear, and worse. He is also everything you hope, and more.”

I was just halfway through Beasts of the Frozen Sun, and I already loved it so much I ordered a hardback copy. I’m both excited and furious that it’s the first in a trilogy, because it means I’ll get to spend two more books following Lira and Reyker’s stories but also that I have to wait AN ENTIRE TWO YEARS to find out how it all ends! How has this story not gotten more press? Why is it not more popular?!?

But apparently I will have to. :'(

I’ve discovered I really love this little sub-genre of fantasy, historical fantasy. The setting of this book reminded me somewhat of Sky in the Deep (which was awesome as well), but it goes much more in depth, not just in the geography but in the mythology and spiritual beliefs of the world. It’s set in a very British Isles sort of locale, and the Dragonmen are obviously meant to be patterned off the Vikings – all this is pretty obvious even if you hadn’t read the author’s lovely page about the real world locations she patterned the book settings off.

As is fitting for the ancient British isles…there is a lot the modern reader might find disturbing in this book. There is violence, bloodshed, abuse, torture, near-rape, and horrible, vindictive and abusive gods. It does somewhat gloss over what I think would have actually happened in those times, probably to make it more suitable for a YA audience. But it’s just barely done and doesn’t really take away from the story.

Lira and Reyker are one of the few YA fantasy pairings I could actually get behind. It’s not insta-love, and it’s not perfect, but they respect each other and they compliment each other and yet they never seem to catch a break! I was rooting for them so hard by the end.

5/5 stars for Beasts of the Frozen Sun. I absolutely cannot WAIT for the second book!

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Profile Image for Anastasia シ.
495 reviews137 followers
October 1, 2019
Full Review on my blog!

Let me just say, the cover is what drew me in! Yes, I totally judged this book by its cover, and what a beautiful cover it is! 

Beasts of the Frozen Sun is Jill's debut novel and the first in a new fantasy trilogy that I'm really exited about! I really don't want to give anything away because it's such a beautifully written novel, clearly inspired by Celtic and Viking mythology and you need to experience it firsthand.

We follow the journey of two enemies: Aillira or Lira for short, the daughter of a Chieftain and Reyker, a warrior from a far distant, cold land from a clan known as Beasts of the Frozen Sun. Although, they meet in unfortunate circumstances, they create a bond that develops from hate to trust and then finally attraction and love.  It wasn't just about them though, there was just about everything you could possibly want in a YA fantasy; action, suspense, monstrous men, powerful women and meddling gods. It was well-rounded, imo. It felt very raw, and was unique. I love the world building and especially the character development, It was slow burning and swoon-worthy. Also, let me just say how flawless the transition was between first and third person point of views; between the two characters.

But anyways!

I loved this so much, and I'm really, REALLY looking forward to where the author takes us in the rest of the series!

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Profile Image for Kelly.
1,312 reviews502 followers
July 20, 2019
Like many people, that gorgeous cover draw me in pretty much immediately. The premise of this book was very interesting and I was excited to find out if the inside was as good as the outside.

I ended up reading this book in two settings. First, I read 42% and I really liked where the story was going and I thought this was going to be a 4 stars book. But then some other shiny new books distracted me and I had to put down this one for a few days. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the last 58% quite as much as the beginning. I'm not sure if it was my mood or just the book itself but I just didn't care about anything. I couldn't care less about the romance or the story and I just wanted to skip some of it to get to the end. It's a bit disappointing considering how much I enjoyed and really liked the first 42%. The romance and the plot intrigued me and I was hooked when she found him on that beach.

I'm sure lots of readers will enjoy this one even if for me this book will end up in the average category, which I tend to forget very easily.

(Thank you for letting me read and review an ARC of this via Netgalley)
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,629 reviews194 followers
July 8, 2019
Oo such a pretty cover, there's no wonder it caught my attention. This is set on an island not too dissimilar in many ways to ancient Britain and has what I can only describe as Vikings attacking with the usual murder, rape and pillaging going on but actually there's far more to it than that. We have Draki, a truly nasty villain who appears to be a demigod of some type and he's pitted against Lira who is also God touched in that she can quite literally read souls. Her ability is both a blessing and a curse and it's quite intriguing the way the author leads her readers to second guess just what truly is Liras purpose and destiny.
Now every story needs a hero so step forward Reyker. He is an enemy and yet he is also this truly sweet man who battles to do the right thing. The romance between them might not read as torrid but it does feel genuine and well timed.
There's a wealth of supporting characters too from old friends to family members who just might break Liras heart and as events unfolded at times this was anything but a pedantic run of the mill fantasy. Atrocities occur, characters the reader could like die and through it all Lira and Reyker battle on. Not perfect as I didn't really care for the made up language although I did think the author did a good job of showing how females were sadly undervalued as well as underrated. These Gods are not kind though but selfish and pernicious and as this ends our couple are far from safe and happy but that's only going to make readers want to read more.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from NetGalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair.
Profile Image for Brittany.
900 reviews118 followers
January 11, 2022
3.5 Stars ✨

“Oh has my love forgotten me? The days pass by, storms ravage the sea. I toss in my sleep, as he calls from the deep. My love, my love, return to me.”

Beasts of the Frozen sun is a forbidden love story full of action. It’s based on Celtic/Viking Mythology (one of my faves).

Lira is a Soul Reader who finds Reyker (a beast warrior from the land of the Frozen Sun) half dead, washed up on the shores of Glasinth. She nurses him back to health, even though he is a huge threat to her clan. Both were marked by the dragon lord who wanted to steal Liras powers and use Reyker as his weapon in the wars.

The book crosses many timelines, journeys and battles. It was semi dark, savage and packed with wars and bloodshed on almost every page. It does contain some tame adult situations and language. I loved the writing and the world building, I felt transported into every timeline. Some of the jumps did seem to bleed into one another though, making some parts a little confusing.

The atmosphere of Vikings and the forbidden love story is was what really drew me in. I adored the way Lira wanted to save everything and everyone she could without bloodshed. Some parts made me wanna cry big fat ugly tears but… I survived 😅. The cliffhanger definitely has me wanting to jump right into the next one!

Profile Image for Jypsy .
1,524 reviews57 followers
September 26, 2020
Beasts of the Frozen Sun is a Viking mythology type of story centered around Lira and Ryker. It's obvious from the start, these two are destined for each other and great heroics and/or doom. Two young people who are essentially forced into situations and ideologies that are well beyond the scope of their lifetime and part of a much larger picture. The characters are excellent in their complexity, development and humanity. Interactions are engaging and entertaining. The story is mythical and dynamic with vivid details and surprising twists. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next to Lira and Ryker because they seemed so real to me. I enjoyed every aspect of the story, and I'm eager to read more from Jill Criswell. Highly recommend! Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Justine.
251 reviews71 followers
July 3, 2019
Full review at Whispers & Wonder

The wolf must be kindhearted, and the deer must be brave.

In a world where warring gods manipulate humankind to carry out their wills, magic and mysticism cloak the land and sea, and clans battle for primacy, a spark of passion, and tears of treachery carried upon the wings of time descend through the ages. A girl in the clutches of a monster hidden beneath the skin of a man; a boy with eyes far older than his years; a mark binding them together forever. The boy, now a man, is left broken upon faraway shores after a deadly attack at sea, healed and protected by a woman with familiar violet hair and grass-green eyes. He is just a beast in the eyes of her people, and an omen of ill fortune that will bring the wrath of both the Dragonmen and the true gods upon them. Each has always been the other’s fate, but the monster has other plans. The gods have other plans. They must endure the onslaught, as enemies close in on all sides, to save her life, and his soul.

Beasts of the Frozen Sun is the first installment in the Frozen Sun Saga, and is an incredible Celtic and Norse-inspired tale of forbidden, undying love, and transformation. The saga of Lira and Reyker goes far beyond the realm of men and deep into the long-lost and often misunderstood myths of those who came before. Is this history repeating itself, or is divine intervention weaving the threads of their hearts and souls together? It’s a story that focuses on the corruption of power and battle of control, holding fast in the face of sorrow and suffering, and finding solace beyond the wall of the norm in the most unexpected places. It’s a beautifully stunning debut – one I wished would never end.

Criswell has brought to life a cast of magnificent characters, and although I usually discuss each individually, then explore their relationships, I feel as though I need to speak of Lira and Reyker as one. Theirs is one of the most genuine, organic romances I’ve ever read. While Reyker battles the black river, Lira struggles to find her purpose and destination. She calms his turbulent soul, and he bolsters her wavering resolve. The two balance each other perfectly, each specifically crafted to fill the void in the other. It’s really a pleasure to watch their relationship slowly unravel as they explore each other in mind, body, and spirit. In addition to our lovers, we’re presented with several antagonists throughout, including Torin, Madoc, and of course, Draki, warlord of the Dragonmen. Each so different, but when examined more closely, so alike in many ways. Touched by the gods, they’ve all had a taste of power, a power which pushes them to seek domination. Torin wants more, Madoc wants what’s due, and Draki wants Lira. All are willing to go any lengths to gain what they seek. And Reyker is willing to go any lengths to protect his love.

This book gets quite dark and graphically violent, pulling you into a world being realistically torn at the seams by war and deception. It has a very grimdark-esque flavor – hope seems to be an increasingly foreign notion as the characters are met with trials and tribulations at every turn. Death and the afterlife are recurring concepts, playing crucial roles in the links between the past and present, and Criswell does not shy away from presenting the grisly details associated with either. While I’ve seen this labeled YA, I feel that classification ends with the main characters falling within the 17-18-year-old age bracket. Personally, I’m a huge fan of dark fantasy, so this was a pleasant surprise. If I had to give one bit of criticism, it would be to give these poor souls a break…the instances of “out of the frying pan into the fire” began to feel a little too inevitable.

Criswell’s prose is striking, flowing exquisitely across the pages like a saga of old. From start to finish, I was dazzled by the world she constructed around me, full of enchanting forests, hungry and violent seas, and charming villages veiling terrible secrets. The pacing is perfect, slowing down when necessary, then speeding up to create such a sense of palpable urgency – the pages were practically flying by. The love emotional, the battles visceral, the mysteries awing. After turning the final page, I’m still finding it difficult to believe this is a debut, her craft is just superb.

The gorgeous cover of this book initially caught my eye, and I’m thrilled it aptly reflects the content within. A world shrouded in darkness, enemies approaching from the horizon, and the light of love the only hope remaining, Beasts of the Frozen Sun leaves us at a cliffhanger, and I’ve been left hungry for more. For lovers of myth and mystery, dark fantasy, and romance, this book is for you. I’m anxious and excited to see where Lira and Reyker are taken next. I highly recommend.

Note: A huge thank you to Blackstone Publishing for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews345 followers
July 21, 2019
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Laura Erne

Jill Criswell’s debut novel, Beasts of The Frozen Sun, was a knockout! The writing was spectacular and the characters were unique and headstrong. I’m not one to like an intricate gods system and yet, I finished this book strangely grateful for it. It was a fierce and dark tale about warring clans with a severe hatred of the unknown, a ballsy heroine who can read a man’s soul with one simple touch, and a brooding love interest forced to fight against his heart. It’s intense and addictive, and honestly I’m still reeling from that ending. Yes, there’s a cliffhanger and Criswell may be a cruel but clever woman, but I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel! This book deserves a 10 out of 10 and I urge you to pick this up, especially if you like historical fiction. It reminded me of The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson, but with a savage, Viking edge.

History has its brutal moments and as such, this book contains a lot of death, torture, and horrible treatment of women, which are all common in war. It’s definitely a book bordering perhaps on adult fiction, but again, that’s inevitable when these themes are involved and this only helped the book feel more realistic. Criswell mixes magic with brute force and it works brilliantly! Her idea of a league of ruthless, highly skilled warriors called Dragonmen led by an unnerving demi-god gave a great spin and worked seamlessly with her warring clans plot.

“Aillira, the first god-gifted daughter of Glasnith, who was so loved by the gods they blessed her with the gift of mind-reaping and vowed to bless her female descendants with gifts of their own. Aillira, who fell under the spell of the Great Betrayer and turned against the gods who loved her, bringing about decades of plague, war and strife. Her name was a curse. She was mother and villain, loved and hated. Many questioned my mother’s sense when she bestowed me with the short form of a traitor’s name. I supposed it a mark of her boldness that she didn’t listen.”

Our main character, Aillira, has had to fight her very name from assumptions and it’s only made her stronger for it. She never rolls over to make a situation more appropriate to her gender and many males see it as disrespectful and challenge her, which only gives her ample opportunity to prove them wrong, leaving them in a stupor. Her wits are sharp and she wields her words like a battle-axe.

The romance between Lira and Reyker is a hot-tempered love affair. Reyker is the literal definition of the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and not an appropriate love match for a Chieftain’s daughter like Lira. He is a beast from the frozen sun and despite her constant hesitation, Lira comes to realise how wrong an assumption can be. They have amazing banter, cute nicknames, and share a bond through their entwined souls. Their respect for one another is outstanding and they value the other’s scars. Their unique shared ability to step in one another’s memories allows them to bond on a higher emotional level that transcends most YA love stories.

“There’s the enchanting maiden, subduer of savages, tamer of beasts.’ Quinlan appeared at my side, looking handsome and mischievous as ever.”

I loved Quinlan! He’s such a sweetheart and I really hope to see more of him in the next book because he’s great and seems to lighten the mood with his humour and mischief.

Lira doesn’t have the greatest male role models either. Blood doesn’t mean anything if you don’t follow their beliefs and she finds this out the hard way several times and yet every time she’s given a way out she refuses, knowing that they are not enacting justice. She keeps to her beliefs and fights tooth and nail for those she loves, no matter the cost.

Criswell has a raw talent for words without bombarding a reader with phrases they’ve read over and over. It’s all very new, fresh, and original and I found it very hard to fault anything she wrote here and for a debut author that’s impressive. Bravo!

Although I haven’t read Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young yet, I feel like this book would be perfect for anyone who loved that one because they both feature Viking elements and a plot rife with warring clans. I also find this book to have mature themes that reminded me slightly of Game of Thrones, in both tone and scene. This was such a great novel and I cannot wait for its sequel!
Profile Image for Fuzaila.
251 reviews360 followers
October 8, 2019
This was too EPIC and SAVAGE right to the very end.

I'm grappling for air, my weak heart is exhausted.

▪ Star-crossed romance
▪ Enemies-to-lovers/forbidden love
▪ Dazzling world-building
▪ Unnecessary Gods ruining the world
▪ Struggle after struggle after struggle after struggle... you get my point?

The sequel release is too far away to promise I'd read it.

3.5/5 stars
Profile Image for Shalini (shaliniandbooks).
2,523 reviews208 followers
August 11, 2019
The cover...oooh the cover caught my eye. It was bloody brilliant. Looking at it caused my imagination to travel to the worlds yonder. The blurb of a kickass heroine, a hunk of a warrior, different lands, forbidden love, gods manipulating humans, power and battle all forced me to read this book. And boy, did Jill Criswell deliver!!

Lira lived in Glasinth and was a soul reader, a power gifted by the gods. Reyker was a savage washed ashore to her lands, barely alive. Lira recognized him to be the boy who had saved her life eons ago, so she healed him. Later, she learned that he was the weapon, a Beast from the land of the Frozen Sun, hated by her clan. Both were marked by Draki, the dragon lord who wanted to possess Lira's powers and make Reyker his weapon in the wars, fighting for the Dragon.

The book followed the journey through battles, some they chose, some they were plunged into. Each character in this world wanted to use the two for their own gains. There was a constant carnage almost every few pages. Every God was bloodthirsty and wanted a piece of Lira. Some scenes felt a bit repetitive due to that.

The first book in the series written by Jill Criswell, the story was pretty dark with violence and slaughter in every other chapter. The world Jill drew me in was complex with the Forbidden Scriptures and Dark Gods. There were some lost beings, The Fallen Ones, who were forgotten but waiting to arise through Lira and Reyker.

Blood was spilled, betrayals and ruthlessness were shown. Every favor demanded its price. This was a hard land. And yet... The theme of a soul binding love beat a strange rhythm in the pages of the book. Its unspoken lyrics was in the hearts of the present and the past There were times when I could feel the silent thrums of this song of love flowing in the background.

The book did end in a big cliffhanger and the characters had yet to leave this land to go on their journey, thereby paving its way for book 2.

The book pulled me in by its sheer complexity, the greed of the Gods, and the love and bond between the main characters. A good breakfast read. I sometimes wake up longing to read a bloodthirsty book.
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
639 reviews144 followers
May 18, 2021
Please, please tell me I haven’t fallen into a slump of reading books that start out incredibly amazing, and then bore me in the second half. Please don’t say it’s so. Because BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN is the second book in a row that has failed me.

Full review at A Book Shrew

The good. I’ll start with that. First and foremost, I need more vikings in my library. This reminded me so very much of Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. You can read my gushing about that book here. This book, told in alternating point of views (although mainly Lira) immediately drew me in with the same type of village setting and us vs. them vibe. It’s vivid and easy to picture in my head. The gods and lore were a great touch as well. I may have zoned out at some point and missed a key explanation, but for the most part it is simple to follow along with and understand the history. No great big index or glossary needed!

I’m also pleasantly surprised to say I didn’t find this to be predictable or too tropey. The ending was pretty good too! Further diving into it not being predictable, there were several plot twists that came about that I didn’t quite see coming and made me eager to read Book 2. Lira, I think, is a great main character. She is a fierce young woman who can hold her own in a world that seems to be very against her and her wishes. Her god-given power is neat, but I would have liked to see more of it.

Basically, where this book let me down was in the romance. I have no qualms with a star-crossed lover trope. In fact, I was egging it on from the moment they first met. Their chemistry was sweet and their relationship somewhat feisty. They’re technically enemies with a secret and brief history and no common language so reading about them communicating with each other was really amusing. But then, you know, they kissed, and it got nauseating over a single page. It went from there’s something about him that draws me in to oh my gods I will never make another decision in my life without factoring Reyker in. I’d have liked to see it more drawn out.

I’m also disappointed in how much this lacked women. There are nothing but men in Lira’s life, shaping her and telling her what to do. Her father, her uncle, her brothers, her childhood friend, the villain, the bloody priest. Even Reyker to a certain extent. The only female influences were her dead mother, a mystic in the woods, and a friend who barely got any screen time. This is where it fell away from Sky in the Deep‘s allure. Women could fight. They were viewed as equal in day-to-day life, and it’s disappointing to see how oppressive this world is.

The middle became quite repetitive as well. Hide, get caught. Run, get caught. Over and over. Another issue I found was with useless plot lines. There was a murder plot/deal that never even once came to light, travel plans to go here, then there, that were all thwarted by the whole … getting caught thing.

Overall it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t great either. Started strong but left me wanting so much more. I think I’ll still look for the second book, but I also think I could live without it.

2.5 / 5 stars
Profile Image for Lyn *Nomadic Worlds.
415 reviews52 followers
July 19, 2019

This book was in one word amazing. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s start chronologically. First, the book cover, which is gorgeous! It was the cover that drew me first and then the blurb held my attention.

Second, writing style. The author’s writing style is so on point with beautiful prose that was a pleasure to read. I fell down the rabbit hole from the first page and kept going deeper and deeper until it was vital for me to get to the end of the book before I could do anything else. The world-building was so rich with vivid detail that I felt like I was there with Lira, living her life.

The main characters Lira and Reyker were both compelling characters. Throughout the book, I was like a cheerleader waving my pom-pom in the air, cheering for them. All their troubles, everything they went through, I couldn’t believe they’d survive it. This book make me experience so many emotions I was soaked in them.

The plot-line was excellent with twists and turns that caught me like sudden tennis balls winging at my head. Every time I thought they’d make it, something worse happened. They just couldn’t seem to catch a break. And the revelations? Boy, I so did not see them coming.

To summarize, this was a splendid book with a fantastic story-line that will keep you on the edge of your seat, biting your fingernails and deprive you of sleep, food and drink until you finish it. I can’t wait for the sequel.

***Note: Received from Netgalley for an honest review.

Posted on Blog
Profile Image for The Bookworm Central.
15 reviews4 followers
June 5, 2020
This book ripped me apart and the most frustrating thing is that I have to wait extra long to read the next one because it’s an arc. I literally have no words. I’m happy, frustrated, torn, in love, confused, and practically desperate for a happily ever after. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with myself now except dive into this review.
Recently I finished A Kingdom of Ash by our beloved Sarah J. Maas and since then have been in a huge YA fiction funk. I’ve struggled to get back into my favorite genre and for the past few days have literally switched gears. However, I was prompted to read this because It practically screamed at me from my BookExpo haul. So I read it. In a day. All 372 pages burnt into my brain for all eternity. There are not many books that are able to throw me on such an intense emotional rollarcoaster. But this book succeeded and literally left me speechless. For starters the world building, the people, the detail in different cultures, and the distinct different languages were all beautiful notes in a literary masterpiece. The characters and their conflicts, both Internal and external had me on the edge of my seat. Every decision, every event had me holding my breath. And at times I was literally screaming at them. But part of this frustration and character development was what hooked me in. The relationship between Lira and Reyker struggling and fighting despite all the odds and differences set to destroy them. The intense family misfortune and the battle to protect her people is dynamic, intense, and devastating. Every second of this novel was beautiful, well thought out, meticulously planned down to the last perfect and microscopic detail.
My favorite character in this book had to be Lira. She was so fierce, so independent, and so courageous despite the circumstances of every situation being against her. She fought, even when it looked like there was no hope and even when she thought she’d lost everything. Because of this my least favorite character is Draki. He was the creation of nearly all Lira’s suffering. He was fueled by greed, power, and possession. He didn’t blink as he tore apart lives, families, and lovers. He was driven by a single desire, a single need and damned everybody who stood in his way. He’s portrayed as the villian in this story, and he lives up to the role. My favorite part of the book, my favorite thing, was the cultures and language. Jill Criswell did an incredible job of showing cultural diversity, language barriers, and communication issues. My least favorite part of this book, was that the characters were never able to have a win. No matter what they did and how hard they fought they still struggled to prevail. It was frustrating and intriguing and had me fighting desperately for my favorite characters to pull through. So despite this being my least favorite part of the book, it was probably also the most important because it revealed the truth of the characters through the pressure and the pain.
So to Jill Criswell I must say a thank you for pulling me from my funk and thank you for introducing me to an incredible new series I’ll never forgot. The story of strength in a young woman, of strength for her family and her love is inspiring, beautiful, and impacting. Thank you for leaving your mark and I can’t wait for the next book! This was read for movement by the way.
Profile Image for Sami.
409 reviews27 followers
July 25, 2019
A breathtaking fantasy for fans of Juliet Marillier, Tamora Pierce, and Robin McKinley., Beasts of the Frozen Sun is endowed with myth and mist and fire in a way reminiscent of a classic tale. What I loved most in this fantasy was the dichotomy of the men in Lira's life, torn over the traditional teachings of masculinity and striving towards emotional understanding. A wonderful start to a must-read series.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
82 reviews20 followers
August 29, 2019
*Actual rating: 3.5 stars

I really wanted to love this one. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my cup of tea. There was nothing particularly wrong about it, and it certainly wasn’t bad. It just didn’t captivate me the way I was hoping.

The characters weren’t my favourite. Lira and Reyker weren’t terrible though. They were good, strong people who experienced growth and used logic and loved each other very much. I just personally wasn’t very enamoured by them and wasn’t that concerned about what would happen to them. But like I said, they weren’t bad characters, I just didn’t personally mesh with them.

The writing however was great. I think Jill Criswell really knows how to develop a fantasy world and its magic system at a rate that allows you to be invested in the story itself yet be able to learn all the details you need to know as you go along so you’re never left confused. She never info-dumped for pages on end, which let’s be real, can ruin a book real quick. And damn, does she know how to write in detail. The war and torture scenes in the book were very vivid.

My main issue with this book was the way the story progressed. I found that it kept moving around in the exact same pattern. Danger is on the horizon. Then things go well. But oh wait, out of nowhere something awful happens. Then Lira is good. Things seem normal. Repeat. After a short time it made things predictable. You may not have known exactly what would happen down to the last detail, but you could figure out the overall idea and know when something good or bad was going to occur.

Overall it was a good book, and I would suggest that any YA fantasy fan, whose interest is piqued by this synopsis, pick it up. It just wasn’t my style.
Profile Image for Melissa.
595 reviews819 followers
July 26, 2021
I have an habit of not reading the synopsis of a book before I read it. So this one was really different from what I thought it was, but in a really good way!

The start was a little bit slow for me, but once the story kicked in... I just couldn't stop reading it! I literally lost hour of sleep reading this book!

I loved to see how mythology and actual people could be linked. How you never know what will happen to you until it does. How a small but vigorous girl can move mountains if she feels threatened. How she kept going even with all the obstacles the gods put in her way. Really, it's a beautiful story of a girl who is brave and fierce. And this girl could be any of us.

TW for rape, mass killing (war), violence.
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books488 followers
Want to read
August 13, 2019
I misread this title as Beats of the Frozen Sun and now I'm disappointed for some reason

also hello hello fellow writer from the Florida swamps!
Profile Image for Christi M.
345 reviews61 followers
August 4, 2019
I really wanted to like this one. I really enjoy the fantasy genre and felt I had recently been spending too much time away from it, so when I picked it up I was ready to dive in and fall in love. What I found was a nicely done book that just wasn’t for me.


I can’t tell you how much I enjoy fantasy, especially epic fantasy where a whole new world is created, new land, new politics, new magic systems. Something completely unlike our own that I can just melt into and forget the world around me. That’s why when I read the description of Beasts of a Frozen Sun I couldn’t wait – I just knew I would enjoy it, even if it had some flaws. What I found was a nicely crafted book – complex characters and lands where politics are deeply intertwined with religion and mythology creating the overall conflict. But I also found that the connection and relationship between Lira and Reykar is central to how one will respond to this book.

To me, the book has one major foundation it is built upon: the relationship between Lira and Reykar. It is for forbidden since their clans are at war with each other, but it is more than just that since the gods play a large role in how their clans react to both of these characters. However, this is what also made the book more challenging for me. It was too much of a focal point or too much of the story, especially since the world created was not very large and felt confining at times – for me personally at least. It was obviously meant and written to be a major focus of the story, but as a reader I lost interest in them.

Another issue I had is how small the world is. The story has the feel of epic fantasy, except in one way – the world is not very large. Many fantasy books have maps to them showing all the countries, land, etc. However, the scope of this new story is confined to mostly one area, or at least feels that way when you read it.

I have no doubt many will read this book and love it. No doubt. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a book I fell in love with.

Rating: 3.5

Thanks to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,353 reviews158 followers
September 2, 2019
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland—one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun—Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun …

2.5 stars.

I can't really remember why this book looked appealing to me in the first place, other than I think I was under the impression there were actual beasts and dragons in it. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. In the beginning I found it pretty interesting, but as I got deeper into the story it started to get boring. It really doesn't go anywhere, at least not enough to keep me interested.

I got a little tired of the repetitive nature of the story. It seemed like the main characters were constantly hiding from enemies and being captured. I ended up abandoning this at 87%. I know, I was almost finished, but I just realized that I really didn't care anymore and felt like I was wasting my time.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader
Profile Image for Courtney ✌.
612 reviews20 followers
February 4, 2021
2.5 stars - It was really difficult for me to decide between 2 and 3 stars for this one. I went back and forth a few times before the story ended. By the book's conclusion, I found that I had to force myself to keep reading for the majority of the story.

What I Liked:
I really loved the world and the general mythology incorporated into the story. Both were the strongest story elements for me as the plot was building. Generally, I liked the two main characters and I felt for them throughout their journey.

What I Didn't Like:
The story was okay, but by the end I was so frustrated. The same things kept happening over and over again and it wasn't long until I became really annoyed. I felt like the main characters were trapped in a circle of events where nothing was really happening.

I probably would have enjoyed the romance more if it hadn't happened over the course of a few weeks. This was a case of insta-love that I just didn't buy into. All the plot surrounding the romance was hard for me to care about.

Wrap Up:
While I didn't fall in love with this book, I do think there is a lot more potential with the sequel (Kingdom of Ice and Bone: The Frozen Sun Saga, Book 2) to be awesome based on all the set-up in this book. I haven't decided if I will continue with the series or not, but I do hold out some hope that things will get better in the next book. There are a lot of cool elements in this story to build on.
Profile Image for Savannah (forest_reader).
645 reviews41 followers
June 30, 2020
Another fantastic Viking-themed story! This book, written by Jill Criswell, has gods, magical gifts, chilling warriors, and so much action I could barely put it down. The story follows Lira, a soul reader who saves an enemy warrior from death. As Lira and Reyker's forbidden bond grows stronger, they discover that the threat from an evil warlord grows stronger, and they must find a way to save themselves, their souls, and their people.

This book has so many elements to it. Even the synopsis falls short of doing this book justice. There's incredible relationships, twisting magic, and vengeful gods. The plot continues to build until the last page, leaving me wishing for more. I know without a doubt I'll be continuing with this series because I absolutely love Lira, Reyker, and the world building. I think it's one of the best Viking reads I've read, and I wouldn't hesitate to group it with Sky in the Deep and Warrior of the Wild.

Writing Aesthetic/Style: 5
Plot/Movement: 5
Character Development: 5
Overall: 5

Would I recommend? Yes! This book is for readers who love Vikings, fantasy, battles, and the enemies-to-lovers trope.

Thank you, NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing, for the ARC! This book will be released on August 6, 2019.
Profile Image for Amber (Ambee's Bookish Pages).
490 reviews59 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
April 9, 2019
I really really wanted to love this one. The premise and the cover are amazing so I figured it was going to be a perfect fit. Where I did like the characters I had a hard time with the writing style, we just weren’t meshing. 😓

DNF @ 30%
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