06 July 2009

The Secret Ministry of Frost

by Nick Lake

Simon & Schuster. Junior, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $16.99

I’ll declare my biases up front. I am an avid fantasy reader. I’ve been fascinated by stories about the icebound Poles since I was in primary school. My dream travel destination is Alaska and I love stories of ancient peoples where myth and magic so easily overlap.

But even before I knew how many of my personal biases boxes The Secret Ministry of Frost had ticked, I was hooked by the cover - stark black and white Inuit motifs with a few sinister splotches of red. Set against a white background speckled with broken geometric holograms, the cover shimmers like snow.

The story I found inside was even more unique. Light is a wealthy, albino, half-Inuit girl whose father is an Arctic explorer. When he disappears, the stories and creatures of Inuit myth come to life around her. Light soon learns her father is still alive and needs her help. Accompanied by her butler (never whom he seemed to be even before the strange happenings began), Shadow (a spirit from inside the house walls) and Tupilak (a half shark creature of the sea), Light sails for Nunavut to rescue her father. The plot thickens. Her father is held captive by the evil being, Frost who wants to destroy the world.

I didn’t like the ending but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the narrative or my enthusiasm to recommend this book. My disappointment was a reflection of how immersed I had become in the story and how unpredictable its plot turns are. A tale which easily blurs the boundaries of readership age, this book will appeal to primary, young adult and adult readers alike. I loved it.

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