Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

Title: Cold Magic (Spiritwalker, #1)

Author: Kate Elliott

Rating: 4 Stars

It would be a lie to say that very few things really get me excited – because I fangirl a lot - but the words “fantasy” and “steampunk” mixed together with other historic words like “Rome” really, really get me excited. I mean, Cold Magic might as well have been written solely for me with an enticing summary like that. And, honestly, the story within these pages does not disappoint. Not only is my first venture into the works of Kate Elliott a strong one, but it is one that has hooked me completely. You can trust that I will soon be devouring much more than just this trilogy by Elliott - much more.

Cold Magic takes place in a re-imagined world, one where ice reigns supreme and cold mages are now in power, their only threat the mysterious spirit world and its hunters. Cat, the protagonist of our tale, is a curious and lively young girl, nearly twenty, whose friendship with her cousin Bee is more of a sisterhood than anything else. The Barahal family has taken Cat in after her parents drowned when she was young and ever since she could remember, she’s never felt like an outsider in her aunt and uncle’s home. Thus, when a cold mage, Andevai, storms in to marry the eldest Barahal daughter, Cat willingly binds her life to his. As she will soon learn, though, nothing is as it originally seems, least of all her bloodlines.

Although Cold Magic starts out relatively slowly, and it even often bogged down by lengthy descriptions and seemingly unnecessary conversation, it is a fast-paced and well-crafted read. As a heroine, Cat shines; flawed in her stubbornness and sharp tongue she may be, but she’s also intensely resourceful and shockingly relate-able, unafraid to appear vulnerable though she is a strong woman. I wasn’t a huge fan of the fact that much of the plot of this story focuses on Cat escaping Andevai, who is sent to kill her, but I was pleasantly surprised that this allowed for so much more depth to be added to the story. For one, I love the world Elliott has built and her world-building is impeccable. I hardly thought it dragged the story down, though I know many readers did, and I loved all the glimpses into multiple perspectives we were given.

Furthermore, Andevai is not a creature to be missed. Goodness, does this cold mage have my heart or what? Although he appears vain, snobbish, and aloof at first glance, throughout the story we slowly come to see that there is far more to him. I loved the slow and steady manner that Cat’s reactions towards him changed and though I ache for more interactions between these two, Cold Magic offers plenty of charged air and promising chemistry. In addition to Andevai, though, Bee had to be my next favorite secondary character. I love that Bee and Cat stick up for each other like sisters, despite the struggles that come their way. I find that literature in general has a dearth of realistically portrayed friendships, but this one remained the focus of the novel and a strong center point of the series, which I appreciated.

All in all, Cold Magic is a delight for fantasy lovers. While it contains only a few steampunk elements, the politics, intrigue, and lore that Elliott has built is more than satisfying. Furthermore, with such engaging and three-dimensional characters set up, this trilogy will undoubtedly only get better from here on out. Andevai Cold Fire, here I come!

Summer Series Reading Challenge: 11


  1. Yay! I'm glad you liked this. The second one offers a lot more romance but swooney Vai and his fancy vest aside, I totally appreciated the world Elliott created.

  2. had me at fantasy! I love the sound of this one. Despite the slow beginning, I'm happy to hear it was a creative read with brilliant world building. Plus, I really like Cat's character. She sounds like one tough chick, and I love heroines like that! And Andevai (how cool is his freakin name!!!!)...I think like you he already owns my heart! He sounds like a bad boy, and he has magical yeah that kinda seals the deal for me! lol ;p Glad you enjoyed this, Keertana! Awesome review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  3. Ahaha, this sounds like an awesome fantasy book. Even with a slightly slow beginning, it seems as if the characters more than make up for it! The MC sounds like a lovely MC, and I think I'd be able to relate well to her, with the whole sharp tongue thing. ;) The MMC also sounds very swoon worthy, and I love how the romance slowly evolves between the two characters.

    Lovely review as always, Keertana dear! <3

  4. Oh you just stole an amazing boy in front of my eyes. Really Andevai seems really great. I can tell you that words fantasy and steampunk are working it for me and I must read this. I'll survive the slower ending with Andevai in my mind :D Great review Keertana :)

  5. I haven't read a great fantastic novel in a while, Keertana, and though this has been on my radar, I've always overlooked it. I love the sound of a snarky, sassy, sharp-witted MC, and I think that's enough to push this up on my TBR. Fantastic review, doll! :)

  6. I am so pumped that I bought this one at her event the other day. The reviews on it are kind of all over the place so I couldn't get a handle on what kind of readers would like it but I'm not pretty positive it's people like me. I don't think I'll mind those long description sections if they are about the world-building. I got cold just thinking about the wintry themes of this book lol. Maybe I just need to close the window. There's a chill at 7am in Seattle.

  7. I have been wanting to read this series for a while now and you have reignited my longing to read it! This sounds fantastic and I really need to push it up the wishlist!

  8. I think I'm a little weird because when it comes to fantasy books (or books like this that deal with steampunk as well), I like a slow beginning. The world and its politics are new so I like giving the author room to expand. While you didn't like the slow beginning, I think I'm going to love this book!

  9. I'm glad you ended up enjoying this one, Keertana! I quite liked it myself. So much depth goes into this world. And Andevai is just amazing! As is Cat and Bee's friendship.
    My main worry now is that it's been a year and a half since I read this, so I'm not sure if I should re-read before moving on to Cold Fire and Cold Steel. There's just so much to remember that I'm sure my mind has already forgotten quite a bit of it!

  10. I don't read a lot of steampunk, but this sounds good! Sometimes the hint of romance/chemistry is better than full on/over the top romance, so that aspect appeals to me!

  11. Thanks a lot, Keertana, YET ANOTHER BOOK TO BUY. Like, this sounds so amazingly perfect for me I'm surprised I didn't hear about it. I love the sound of the romantic tension and the sisterly relationship I'm being promised here. I've got to look this one up!

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