Bleeding Snow, by Caroline Peckham: A Review

Bleeding Snow, the sequel to Creeping Shadow, is the second book in Caroline Peckham’s Rise of Isaac fantasy series for young adults. The story continues from where it left off. Oliver and his compatriots, including his grandfather Ely, have crossed into Glacio in an attempt to reach Brinatin and save May’s life by lifting the curse. They are rapidly captured and jailed for illegally using a Gateway. The ensuing consequences make up the bulk of the story in Bleeding Snow, along with the continuing back-story involving Oliver’s parents and Isaac.

I found this second book less compelling and more derivative than the first volume. The book continues the action and moves the story forward, although not very far in the terms of finding a cure for May. Faced with a huge obstacle standing between them and their goals, the group has to adapt and compromise. The plot, and the action resulting, take centre stage over character development, but there is enough growth (and romance) to continue to make the characters interesting. It’s always difficult to fairly judge the second book of a multi-book series: they are frequently bridges between the introduction of characters and their challenges and the climax of the action in a further book, and cannot be fully assessed as a stand-alone novel would be.

We do learn more about William, Alison and Isaac, and how this back-story intersects with the immediate action involving Oliver, May, and the others. I found this thread of Bleeding Snow and its development more satisfying than the main story, as it appears that, in the overall story arc, the developments here are of more consequence than the events that befall the protagonists in this book. But only time and the next book will confirm or contradict that supposition!

I did, however, have serious niggles with this book, falling into two categories: plot, and errors of grammar and spelling.

A large part of the book is taken up with a journey in the winter world of Glacio and the rescue of a kidnapped prince from the evil trolls that mine gems in the caves. Unfortunately, this read to me as being heavily influenced by a combination of the attempted journey over Caradhras and the Redhorn Pass in The Fellowship of the Ring, Thorin and Co.’s adventures in Smaug’s cave in The Hobbit, and the battles in Moria. The escape sequence that ends this adventure again appears to owe much to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This may not have been the author’s intent, nor even her influences, but that is how they came across to me.

As far as grammar and spelling, there were more errors than I like to see in the text, the most jarring being the mis-use of ‘effect’ or ‘effected’ when ‘affect’ or ‘affected’ is meant, and the mis-spelling of ‘mat’ as ‘matt’. The inclusion of the non-standard grammatical structure ‘was sat’, which is ubiquitous in the UK, should also, in my opinion, been caught by the editors. A few other minor errors occurred, but these were the ones that caught my eye. However, the author assures me these will be corrected.

Overall, then, I’m giving Bleeding Snow three-and-a-half stars at this point. That may change after the next book, when I can more fairly rate it as part of the overall series. Three-and-a-half stars means I like it, but found some significant flaws. I would still recommend the series to someone looking for an undemanding, entertaining young-adult fantasy story.
The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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