I have another wonderful tour post for you today hosted by The Write Reads. This time, I get to tell you my thoughts on an upcoming middle grade fantasy that is as sweet as it sounds: The Miraculous Sweetmakers by Natasha Hastings! This magical book took me on a frosty adventure and I loved every minute of it.
Before I get further into my review, though, I have people to thank. First, thank you to Dave @ The Write Reads and all of the crew for giving me a spot on this tour! Second, thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free e-ARC via Netgalley so that I could participate. It is, as always, appreciated 😊
Now, let’s get to my post!
- Title: The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair
- Author: Natasha Hastings
- Illustrated by: Alex T. Smith
- Publication date: November 1st, 2022
- Genre: Fantasy
- Age group: Middle Grade
- Content/Trigger Warnings: Depictions of child neglect, death of a loved one, grief
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 . . . ?
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.
Thank you to The Write Reads, the publisher, and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-book in exchange for an honest review! All opinions contained within are my own.
There’s something about a good middle grade story that is just magical. It can carry you away and make you forget about the real world for a few hundred pages. Though this book dealt with some heavy topics, it still managed to provide that escape that I love about middle grade books!
In The Frost Fair, we’re following the story of a girl named Thomasina. She is the daughter of a sweetmaker and a rather competent sweetmaker of her own accord. A family tragedy in the past, however, has put a pallor over her world. Then she meets two very different people: a young girl named Anne who she hopes to turn into a friend and a mysterious conjuror that promises her heart’s biggest desire. Thomasina finds herself pulled into the magical world of the Other Frost Fair, but not everything is as it seems.
This book does such an excellent job of mixing whimsy with some real world topics. The Other Frost Fair is filled with magic and wonder and it’s incredible getting to experience it through Thomasina’s eyes. At the same time, we get to see how grief affects different people in different ways. We also take a look at the unfairness of how women and girls were treated in the 1600s. I loved how the author mixed discussions of these topics into the story in a way that strengthened the tale and made it that much more captivating. I think it’s important to broach difficult topics like those in middle grade stories. I think the author did a fantastic job of doing so while also creating a magical world that was easy to get lost in.
I think part of the reason why this worked so well is because Natasha Hastings did an great job of writing relatable characters that just make you want to root for them. Thomasina, Anne, and Henry are the best! I love those kids with my whole heart and I loved watching their friendship develop. The more peripheral characters were equally well-written which made the whole reading experience that much more delightful. Even Father Winter was an incredible character in his perfectly creepy way.
Hastings also does an incredible job of creating atmosphere. This is a book I’m going to be recommending as a winter read for years to come, I’m sure, because you can just feel the cold and the winter vibes. It makes you want to bundle up with a nice cup of cocoa! I also loved her descriptions of the Other Frost Fair, with it’s strange magic and fantastical creatures.
Overall, this was a magical adventure that swept me up and didn’t let me go until I turned the last page! It deals with some heavier topics, like grief, and I appreciate that it did so in a way that feels really accessible to the target audience. The atmosphere is pitch perfect and the characters will make you want to root for them as soon as you meet them. All in all, I truly enjoyed this book and am eagerly awaiting the next in the series!