I picked up this book not realising it was for a middle grade audience but thoroughly enjoyed it! Perfect as a Christmas present for your pre-teen or teenager.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Valor is arrested, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s sister Sasha is already serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.
Never mind that no one has escaped in three hundred years. Valor has a plan and resources most could only dream about. But she didn’t count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.
Prisoner of Ice and Snow is an exciting adventure story set in a fantastical Russia-inspired realm. From the opening the pace is clipping, with Valor attempting a daring feat in order to be sent to the prison where her twin sister, Sasha, is. Unsure whether or not Sasha stole the music box – the crime for which she was convicted – Valor has contrived a brilliant plan for the two of them to break out of the impenetrable fortress, Demidova. Even though Valor has worked for weeks on an escape plan she can’t foresee the challenges that will face her once inside Demidova; harsh punishments for transgressions, finding steadfast friends, catastrophic fires, and a thwarted escape all test her courage and resilience in seeing her sister freed.
I loved this book. By the end of opening section I forgot I was reading a middle grade novel as the storytelling and prose was excellent. All thought of audience escaped as I immersed myself in the fantastical world Lauren has created. Characterisation was strong as was imagery – reading the book was like watching a film in my mind. It was exciting that the book ends on something of a cliffhanger to open up the story for a possible trilogy.
Beautiful prose, fantastic world-building, great pace, and wonderful characters, Prisoner of Ice and Snow is a great read for anyone who loves adventure tales with a touch of fantasy.