Cold Spell is not the first Jackson Pearce book I’ve reviewed on this blog. As a matter of fact, it is the final book in the series that began with Sisters Red, where Ms. Pearce retells fairy tales in modern times. This time around, she retells the story of The Snow Queen, the same story that Disney based Frozen off of.
It’s a shame that The Snow Queen does not receive a lot of retellings, since it is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s longer stories, so there is plenty of material to adapt, as well as the fact that it’s a compelling story of adventure and danger. But mostly, it’s a story about love—specifically the love you have for your best friend—conquering all. You don’t see many stories like that. But can that same story thrive when it becomes about rescuing your boyfriend? Uh…
In contemporary Atlanta, teenagers Ginny and Kai are best friends who dream of going to New York and being independent from their neglectful families. But one day, during a sudden and mysterious snowstorm, Kai disappears into the snow on the arm of a beautiful woman named Mora. Ginny discovers that Mora can control snow and ice, and that she intends to make Kai into an irreversible monster. Ginny races across the country to rescue her best friend, but will have to face some hard truths if she is to truly bring him back home…
What’s so charming about the original Snow Queen story is that Gerda (as she is called in the fairy tale) and Kai are only children, not teenagers, so their relationship feels rather innocent. Gerda sets out to rescue Kai not because of romantic love, but because he is her best friend—practically her brother. Gerda may be a child, but she encounters every obstacle with bravery and determination.
So it feels almost like a different story when the two characters have aged up, and they are in love with each other.
It might be because I just haven’t read many stories lately where the central relationship is a friendship, rather than a romance. So I find myself pondering if Ginny and Kai’s relationship might have felt stronger if they were true friends. We are shown flashbacks that show how they fell for each other, but they feel too brief and rushed.
It might also be because Ginny has no identity outside of being with Kai. And while that is the lesson of her story—that she has to learn to be her own person outside of her relationship with Kai—it’s not the most compelling character arc.
It is a good lesson for teenage girls, I will agree. But maybe I don’t quite buy into it because I am just a jaded twenty-something harking on a teenage girl in love—who knows? Either way, Ginny is not my favorite Jackson Pearce heroine, if only because she bases nearly her whole person on what she’ll be with Kai. She also never develops any hobbies or goals outside of just waiting for Kai to return to her from school.
And maybe this is just as cliché a storyline, but I kept wondering how it would be if Ginny and Kai truly started out as friends, but realized the true depth of their friendship through their journey. Whether it ended in romance or not, it would be a just as compelling story.
For all the harking I’ve done so far, I did enjoy this book. This series of books all connect through the characters, and it’s delightful to get callbacks to previous books. And we do have a compelling villain of sorts in Mora, this book’s Snow Queen. She is kind of pathetic in her lust for attention from men, but you also feel kind of sorry for her.
Plus, there are the Travellers, who are hands down the best characters in the book. When Flannery Sherlock and her VW bus Wallace enter the picture, things get a lot more interesting.
Cold Spell is well plotted and written, but I could not quite get behind Kai and Ginny as I have other couples in this series. I would also certainly still recommend it to people wanting a contemporary Snow Queen (as well as a Snow Queen property other than Frozen). However, I look forward to the day when a fairy tale retelling will stay true to its friendship roots.