The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair by Natasha Hastings | #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour #BookReview #Historical #MiddleGrades

Thank you to The Write Reads for my spot on this blog tour.

Blurb

An amazing and captivating, curl-up-on-the-sofa debut about a magical frost fair and the lasting power of friendship.

It’s a cold winter during the Great Frost of 1683. Thomasina and Anne are the best of friends, one running her father’s sweet shop and the other the apprentice at the family apothecary – together they sell their goods on the frozen River Thames. When a family tragedy turns Thomasina’s world upside down, she is drawn to a mysterious conjuror and the enchanted frost fair.But soon the world of Father Winter threatens to claim everything she holds dear. Will they be able to solve the magical mysteries that surround them . . . ?

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

The Miraculous Sweetmakers#1: The Frost Fair by Natasha Hastings is a beautifully told historical fiction story set in the late 1600s, intended for the middle-grade reader.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

It’s a middle-grade book, so it immediately makes me expect a cute, fast-paced story. But, when I read the blurb, I can see that the story tackles some very tough subjects. Based on the blurb, I’m not sure what to expect because it is so different from other stories, I have read for this age group.

Actual Reading Experience:

It is a challenging and poignant reading experience, even for an adult like me. Still, it is also so beautiful and impactful that it will resonate with me for a long time. The writing took my breath away, as did the world-building. The details pull you in and make everything easy to visualize and immerse yourself in.

The plot is focused, never straying away from the center. This, along with the artwork, keeps the pace fast and easy to read. I loved the way death, grief, and depression are handled in the story. Tough subjects, to be sure, but they are born with so much love and empathy that I think my heart grew two sizes by opening it up to the story and the characters.

The story has a bit of magic, and I always love magic! The other Frost Fair is so imaginative and clever that it took my breath away and the magical components of it delighted my imagination.

Characters:

Thomasina Burgess is the main character, along with her friends Henry and Anne. Even though they are young, they have all known many tragedies in their lives. And the many layers of their development reflect that with exquisite detail. I love that Thomasina has a head for business and is always brave, not just when she needs to be. I always admire strong female characters such as she is. Her friends aren’t as detailed, but they stick by Thomasina even in the most harrowing of times, which speaks volumes for their character.

Narration & Pacing:

The narration is in the third person focusing on Thomasina’s point of view. This helps the reader separate from the more challenging parts of the story, whereas the first person may have been just too personal and close to them. It also allows for a much broader understanding of the time and what it meant for different members of that society.

The pacing is swift, especially in the action-packed section of the story. It will be broken up by lots of pictures that give young readers a visual to help them understand the story. Aside from the cover, I haven’t seen the artwork yet, but if it is similar, it will be a lovely addition to the story.

Setting:

The setting was London in 1683. I find the location interesting in how far back in time it is but considering what transpires by the end of the book, it needed to be set that far back. The setting will allow the series to continue building off the ending to book 1.

Ages Appropriate For:

This story is meant for ages 8-12, and I think this is one that parents need to decide when their child is ready for this book. Reading it requires fully understanding death, grief, and mental health disorders – weighty subjects that require a certain maturity level to process the story as intended.

Read it if you like:

  • Beautiful fantasy worlds
  • Happily-Ever-After’s with essential lessons
  • Historical fiction set in the late 1600s
  • Wonderful characters
  • A poignant story that will stay with you long after you close the book

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Originality10
Writing Quality10
Pace8
Character Development9
World-Building10
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness8
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5 point system.

Natasha Hastings started developing The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair while studying history at Cambridge University, where she focused on gender and mental illness. While exploring these topics, she became determined to have the lives of working women, as well as their experiences of mental illness in this period, form the heartbeat of her debut book, The Frost Fair.

21 Replies to “The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair by Natasha Hastings | #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour #BookReview #Historical #MiddleGrades”

  1. I’m reading this at the moment so I did skim your review a little bit to ensure that I see nothing that might spoil things for me but I’m so glad to hear that you loved it, Tessa! I saw someone the other day call it YA and I was a little confused because I thought it was MG, but could it be the tough themes? Anyway, I’m looking forward to diving back into this one 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I included my spoilers. I try very hard not to. But, yes it is classified as MG but I could see where someone might think the subject matter requires a YA level of maturity.

      Like

    1. There’s so many factors that could impact how a young reader might handle this book. Parents always know what’s best – or at least we try 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review. Another blogger recommended MG of YA books as they don’t tend to be full of all the cliched and over-used tropes so I’ll add this to my TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A few years ago, I read another book targeted for this age group that affected me so much I went out and bought the hardcover- “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.” by Judy Blume. This story sounds like it carries the same emotional punch. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

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