Review: Frost Fair by Erastes

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Review by Leslie H. Nicoll

Before the climate changed, Londoners were occasionally treated to a sporadic festival triggered by the freezing of the Thames River. This was known as the Frost Fair, where merchants hauled their wares onto the surface of the river, and citizens flocked to impromptu markets, drawn by the novelty and beauty of snow and the hastily-assembled stalls offering goods and food to the curious city dwellers.  The final Frost Fair lasted four days in February, 1814; it provides the backdrop and opening scenes for the book of the same name, authored by Erastes and published by Linden Bay Romance.

It is during the month of this unusual fair that readers are introduced to Gideon Frost, a young man struggling to maintain his printing business after his father’s untimely death. With blond hair and blue eyes, he has a fair complexion; he is also fair and honest in his heart and his dealings, although he struggles with some secrets that he harbors in his soul, namely, his amorous desire for one of his clients and his need to occasionally prostitute himself to wealthy men he meets on Lad Lane, in order to make ends meet.

Frost Fair unfolds over the course of a month and in that short time span, Gideon struggles with blackmail, betrayal, and deceit. He also falls in love, finds that love requited, then denied, then found again. All this, in a short novella! It is a satisfying read, in large part because of Erastes’ vivid characterizations and evocative descriptions of the time and place. I could feel the cold snow, hear the “clunk” of Gideon’s printing press, and see in my mind’s eye the locales in which he found himself, from grand homes to dark taverns. Mostly, I could smell the tang of the men who desired Gideon, with their advances both wanted and not.

I read the ebook version of the story and it was nicely formatted, although I wish the publisher would add a few conveniences for the reader such as a Table of Contents and links to navigate back and forth from the contents to the various chapters. Since a reader cannot flip through an ebook, such links make reading more akin to the paper experience. While I am on the subject of the publisher, I do have to voice my displeasure at the cover. It does nothing to convey the subject of the story and is a disservice to the wonderful tale inside. I bought the book because I enjoy Erastes’ writing; as a marketing tool the cover is not effective. It was only the author’s name that drew me in.

I have one tiny quibble and it comes near the end: there is a little loose end that is left hanging and it is disconcerting. I imagine the author desired some ambiguity (that seems to be an Erastes’ trademark) and I drew my own conclusions as to what happened. Still, it left a nagging feeling in the back of my mind which is why I comment on it. A wise editor might have pointed this out and it could have been fixed with a sentence or two—and the ambiguity preserved—but it was not. Erastes is a wonderful author and storyteller; this is a matter of craft that is easily repaired. I recently read Standish (by the same author) which I also enjoyed tremendously, but I have to say, I believe that Erastes is maturing as an writer and overall, Frost Fair is more well written. This is exciting because it gives me something to look forward to from this talented author and I hope that small errors such as this disappear completely in her future works.

I read Frost Fair first a few weeks ago and then, in preparation for writing this review, I re-read it yesterday, during an ice storm, which certainly put me in the proper frame of mind to enjoy a story set during one of the coldest winters in London’s history! The story, while cold and bleak in some parts, is warm and hot in others and left me, as a reader, feeling completely fulfilled.


ISBN: 978-1-60202-157-0

Available in print ($14.99) and ebook ($5.99) directly from the publisher: http://www.lindenbayromance.com/product-frostfair-7265-145.html

Leslie H. Nicoll is the owner of Maine Desk LLC, an editorial writing and consulting business located in Portland, Maine. She is also the Publisher for Bristlecone Pine Press, an ebook publishing imprint and subsidiary of her business. While she desires to write fiction, she seems to have more success in the non-fiction world. Her latest books (both 2008) are The Editor’s Handbook, co-authored with Margaret Freda and published by Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins and The Amazon Kindle FAQ, co-authored with Joshua Tallent and DeLancey Nicoll and published by Bristlecone. For more, please visit www.mainedesk.com and www.bcpinepress.com.

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