Voyage of the Frostheart
Voyage of the Frostheart
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Catalog Number: #192342
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 448
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-451-48134-8
ISBN 13: 978-0-451-48134-4
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
Reviews:
School Library Journal
Gr 47 In a future world where climate change has wrought its worst, Ash lives in a frozen society that prohibits musicspecifically singing, which is kind of a problem when you're a Song Weaver. Banished from his wintry home after he breaks into song (even though it saves the lives of everyone on the traveling sleigh Frostheart), Ash joins its crew in a quest for his long-lost parents and the fabled city of the Song Weavers. On the way, he learns that people don't have to be blood relatives to be your family. The downside? Others want to control him, and his gift, to take over the world. Illustrator Littler has created a tale filled with adventure, humor, and unusual characters: talking yetis, anyone? But it's the appealing graphic novelstyle artwork that makes this fast-paced story stand out and helps readers visualize the strange creatures and places described. The first round of evildoers is dealt with by story's end, but the main quest is unfulfilled, leaving it wide open for future installments. VERDICT Highly recommended for upper elementary and middle school readers. Elizabeth Friend, Wester Middle School, TX
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Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (10/1/19)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 3-6

Song

They shouldn't have been out on the snow.

"The snow hides death," the Fira people would claim, one of the many cheerful sayings taught to their children as soon as they were old enough to learn. And with good reason. The snow was a deadly place to be.

But the ball wasn't that far away.

A quick jog and grab, and it would be theirs. And yet it might as well have been a million miles away. There it sat, a dark speck against the endless white plain. The four children looked at it in silence. They didn't move. They didn't dare. Each of them was tensed, ready to run at the slightest noise.

Ash, the smallest of them, gave a shiver, and tucked his hands under his armpits, trying to soak up all the warmth he could from his furs. His breath puffed out in a white cloud. Behind him his friend Flare sniffed, and wiped the snot dribbling from his nose with his sleeve. Flare always had a snotty nose. It was almost as if he wasn't used to the cold, which was strange, really, as there hadn't been a warm day in living memory.

"We could get that," he said, sniffing his large nose again. "It's not that far."

And it wasn't. But still, no one moved.

"You get it," Shyne told Flare, her freckles doing nothing to soften the hard scowl that seemed forever etched onto her face.

"What?! I'm not going out there! Ryse kicked it over the battlements--­it should be him who gets it!"

"Ash passed it too hard! He always does--­he lost loads of balls when he lived with me," Ryse said, his chubby cheeks raw from the chill.

"Yeah, he lost all mine when he lived with my family too," Shyne agreed.

"OK, OK! I pass too hard. I get it!" Ash said.

"Anyway, it's your stupid ball," Ryse pointed out to Flare.

"Exactly! It's my ball, and I want it back!" Flare retorted.

"There's another ball back at your house, Flare," Ash said, trying to stop the argument. "Why don't we just play with that? We're already too close to the snow. W­e're not meant to be here . . ." He was shivering terribly now, and not just because of the cold. He gazed at their Stronghold high above them, nestled safely on its cliff-­top perch. From this distance it looked even smaller than usual, trapped and isolated amid its endless white surroundings. Ash wanted nothing more than to run back up the winding, raised wooden stairway and in through the front gates. Back to safety.

"Ash is right. Leviathans have been seen about, Lurkers no less, and I don't want to become any stupid Lurker'sbreakfast," huffed Shyne.

"We'll just be a second!" Flare snapped.

Still no one moved. A cloud passed over the morning sun, strengthening the shadows across the snow plain. It got colder. Quieter. There wasn't a sound. Nothing, except for the whispering of the wind, and the occasional sniff from Flare. The cold breeze bit into Ash's face.

"Guys--­" he began.

"Fine! I'll get it! Wow, you guys are such cowards!" Ryse said. "Keep watch. If the grown-­ups see, they'll kill me."

"It's not the grown-­ups I'm worried about," Ash muttered. Looking out at the snow, he saw only unbroken, glistening white. It didn't seem possible that anything could be hiding beneath.But that's what Lurkers do best . . . they hide.

Ryse stretched his arms out and rubbed his hands together, preparing to make the trek to the ball. It was probably a whole two hundred steps away. That was far. Far enough to have the children shaking in their boots.

After a moment's hesitation Ryse finally made the first careful step off the wooden platform and onto the snow.

He froze.

The other children held their breath.

Nothing happened.

The children breathed out in relief. As quietly and quickly as he could, Ryse trotted over to the ball. His ulk-­fur boots made a gentlepff pff pff pff noise as he padded through the snow. He was about a hundred steps away from the ball now.

Fifty.

Twenty.

Ash could barely watch, yet he couldn't bring himself to look away. Sweat trickled down his neck, despite the cold.

Ten steps.

Five steps.

One.

"I've got it!" Ryse cried, hoisting up the ball. He quickly covered his mouth with a hand, shocked at the volume of his voice.

"Bring it back!" Flare whispered as loud as he dared. With a nod Ryse began to jog back.

"He's gonna make it!" said Shyne.

Ash laughed in relief.

Then: FWOOM!

Snow erupted into the air like water from a geyser. The children staggered back as freezing slush rained down upon them. Out of the snow-­chasm rose three large shapes. "Lurkers," Ash gasped, his voice strained with fear.

The creatures were wet, sleek, and serpentine, longer than two men, with six frost-­white eyes that blinked slightly out of order, and gaping jaws filled with ice-­sharp fangs and drool-­slick tongues. Despite their graceless scrambling gait, they moved with terrible speed--­so quickly, in fact, it was hard to make sense of their spiny crests, scrabbling claws and whip-­long tails--­they just looked like a writhing mass of horror to Ash.

"They've cut him off!" Shyne screamed. And she was right. The Lurkers had blocked Ryse's path back to the village and were already racing hungrily toward him. He was frozen to the spot in fear.

"We need to tell the grown-­ups!" Ash yelled, but he needn't have bothered. A lookout on the watchtower above had already seen the commotion.

"Lurkers!" he bellowed. "Hunters, to the battlements!"

Meanwhile the Lurkers were nearly upon Ryse, who simply stood there, whimpering in terror.

"Ryse, RUN!" Ash yelled at the top of his voice. This seemed to snap Ryse out of his trance. He dropped the ball and began to sprint, trying his hardest to skirt round the approaching Lurkers.

Suddenly a hungry, violent noise grew, echoing across the plain, terrifying in its fury. It was the Song of the Lurkers. Harsh ragged howls and screeches pierced Ash's ears, and his belly gave a sickening lurch as hefelt the hateful emotions of the Leviathans. This was a war Song.

"HUMAN. CATCH. KILL."

Ash and the rest of the children clutched at their heads as the Song tore through them. The air around the Lurkers shimmered with blood-­red energy, an aura of snakelike tendrils writhing and reaching for Ryse with as much ferocity as the monsters themselves.

On the battlements Fira hunters used slings to launch rocks at the beasts, but they did little damage as they bounced off their slimy hides. Cumbersome harpoon-­launchers fired too, but the beasts were too close to the wall and the giant harpoons flew wide of their mark. One Lurker was almost upon Ryse, its jaws open wide . . . but before it could chomp down on him, another Lurker leaped in its way, determined to be the first to get the meal. They fell in a tangled mess and collapsed to the ground in a wave of snow.

Ryse used the opportunity to sprint around the writhing mass. He headed straight for the wooden platform where the other children were waiting in terror.

"Come on, Ryse!" Ash shouted.

Ryse ran as fast as his little legs could carry him. The monsters finally untangled themselves, snapping and hissing at each other in frustration, before continuing the pursuit. Ryse was nearly at the platform, but the Lurkers were inches behind him.

"They're . . . they're coming this way!" Flare said. "I don't want my ballthat much!" And with that he turned tail and legged it up the staircase, Shyne close behind.

Ash, however, remained, waiting for Ryse with his arm outstretched. Rysefinally made it to the platform and grabbed Ash's hand. Ash pulled him up, screaming, "GO, GO, GO!" Together they ran up the rickety stairway that led back to the safety of the village gate. But they'd taken only a few steps when a Lurker tore through the wooden posts that held the stairs aloft, shattering the wood in a shower of splinters. The staircase gave out a low groan before it started toppling toward the snow.

"Keep going!" Ash shrieked. The two boys tried to outrun the collapsing stairway, but they were too slow. The stairs trembled and swayed beneath them, and then Ryse lost his footing, sliding down toward the waiting jaws of the Lurkers below.

"HUNT. KILL. EAT."

"HELP ME!" screamed Ryse.

Ash didn't know what to do. Ryse had managed to catch hold of the edge of a step, but the stairs were falling down around them. The gate was still so far away. The hunters were streaming through it, but they wouldn't make it in time to help. Ash's head spun, and the sight of the writhing Lurkers below made his belly churn.

Ash was desperate. Desperate to survive, but that wasn't all. He could feel an overwhelming urge bubbling up inside him, something that had been tugging at his spirit for as long as he could remember.

It was the desire to sing.

It would have seemed crazy, absurd, funny, even, had he not been feet away from a pack of ravenous beasts. But it also felt like the most natural thing to do. He couldn't have said why, but deep down inside he felt certain he could stop this if only he sang at the Lurkers--­something to fight back against their terrible Song. He could see no other way out.

I shouldn't.

His people would exile him for sure. All the terrible rumors . . . they would be proved true. He would show himself to be the monster the Fira had feared him to be for so long.

No. I can't . . . I won't. I'm normal!

The stairs creaked and groaned as they drew the boys closer to the gaping, snapping maws below. Ash gritted his teeth and made a decision. He opened his mouth . . . 

And then there was a terrible thwack, and below them a Lurker reared up, shrieking in pain, an arrow protruding from one of its many eyes. The creatures spun to face their attacker, and Ash followed their gaze. A hunting party had returned from the wilds, and they were racing across the snow toward the children. At their front stood Ash's guardian, the mighty yeti warrior Tobu, bow in hand, already reaching for another arrow from his quiver. As he approached he shot Ash a terrifying glare--­almost as if he'd somehow sensed Ash was about to sing.

Even among all the chaos, Ash's heart sank. Another thing I'll be in trouble for.

"This way!" the hunters called, waving their hands, whooping, and making as much noise as they could to attract the Lurkers."Come on, you horrible things!" The Lurkers howled and scrabbled toward them, and the hunters scattered in different directions so the frantic Lurkers didn't know whom to follow. Almost immediately a large spear tore from the battlements into the side of one of them, pinning it to the ground with a deep thunk. It screeched a final bloodcurdling scream before going limp and still. Blue lifeblood began to envelop its entire body, like frost freezing over a puddle, and in mere moments the creature had turned into glistening ice. It was dead.

Realizing the danger they were in, the remaining Lurkers dived under the snow, burrowing away and out of sight, their prey forgotten.

Ash felt the world go quiet, silent but for the sound of the hunting party rushing toward him and Ryse.

They were the last thing he saw before his head hit the wood, and everything went black.



Excerpted from Voyage of the Frostheart by Jamie Littler
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

The whimsy of Nevermoor meets the mythical world-building of Neil Gaiman in this unlikely hero's quest to find his parents--and find the home he's always longed for.

In a snow-covered land where monsters rule the icy tundra, only song weavers hold the power to control these vicious giants. But for centuries song weavers have been the subject of suspicion--how can those who hold so much power be trusted?

Ever since his parents were lost on a pathfinding expedition, Ash has spent his life as an outcast. As a budding song weaver, his village marked him as a potential threat, even though all he wants to do is protect them. Eager to find his place in the world, he and his cantankerous yeti caretaker seek passage on the Frostheart: a ship-like sleigh whose mission is to explore faraway lands.

There he meets a fast-talking, spunky navigator, a walrus captain with a peg leg who runs a tight sleigh, and a mysterious traveler who encourages him to hone his song. But can Ash's song weaving save the Frostheart from the monsters hiding under the ice? Or will his untamed powers put his newfound friends in jeopardy?

Chockfull of heart and humor, as well as Jamie Littler's irresistable illustrations, the journey of the Frostheart will win over readers and gatekeepers looking for a rich, gateway fantasy read.


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