This 400-page fantasy book is a cross between the X-Men movies and a Russian fairy tale. Katya is a young woman with an unusual power, the ability to protect herself by generating a covering of ice and projecting that as a weapon against others. Because of this, and because she was a foundling adopted by grandparent-age villagers, she experiences bullying and suspicion. Her adopted parents themselves are outsiders in the village, because they traveled far and wide before returning home to settle down. Although the parents themselves do not feel this way, villagers project onto them an attitude of superiority. At a critical point the father is mobbed and threatened with death, at which time Katya unleashes her uncontrollable gift of icy fury and destroys many of the villagers. She then is hauled off to the prince of the region to await punishment. Or is she? Actually, the prince has need of her power to help him fight enemies of the kingdom.
After being escorted to the prince’s court, along with an animal “familiar” (a large golden eagle called Elation), Katya discovers she is one of many who have unique gifts being commandeered in a battle between good and evil. She wrestles with whether or not to allow herself to be used as a weapon, how to learn to control her power if so, and whom to believe and trust. She also falls in love with the prince, makes friends and enemies, and eventually finds out who her true parents are.
This book is refreshing in that there is not a single incident of coarse or offensive language. Although there is romance, there are no explicit sexual encounters or talk. The one mild exception is that, in response to a joke, Katya makes it plain that “that is not the kind of girl she is.” The lack of bad language and graphic sex does not impede the story at all. There IS a fair amount of violence described, but it is of the battle/fantasy type. I can’t imagine it would trouble anyone.
It’s possible the author intends a sequel to this book, but it ends satisfactorily if not.
Readers who enjoy X-Men-type movies or love fairy tales and fantasy writing might enjoy this book.