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The Secret Ministry of Frost Paperback – 2 Mar 2009

7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's (2 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847383092
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847383099
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 0.1 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,449,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Nick Lake is 29 years old and a children's book editor at HarperCollins. He lives in London with his English teacher wife, Hannah. This is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Federhirn on 18 July 2010
Format: Paperback
The Secret Ministry of Frost has a lot going for it. It is an adventure novel for young adults, starring a plucky heroine, some mythical creatures, and set in the Arctic. In short, it should be a riveting read.

It isn't bad. However, the strange mixture of setting it in the present (along with Global Warming and other sensibilities), but throwing in Eskimo myths and the sort of explorers / rich Lordship families one might expect in a more Victorian setting results in a book that does not quite manage to sustain a coherent atmosphere throughout. Worse, a lot of the supposedly mythological creatures come across like 20th century gothic alien monsters, rather than old myths. Balloon people who suck out people's insides through intestines that are thrown around with spears? Creepy, yes, but I can't imagine Eskimo myths containing anything like this.

The story is quite fast-paced. It introduces a variety of show-stealing, often quirky characters. It kills them off at a similar pace. The enemies, meanwhile, are a faceless horde (with dozens of copies of each), which makes them appear more like the creatures in a video game than like convincing entities. The enemy boss character is left woefully undefined and unmotivated, so he never really seems anything more than a video game boss, either.

There is a lot in this book which I wanted to love. Unfortunately, it reads like a video game that has been novelised, rather than a novel of its own right. It doesn't hit the nail on its head when it comes to its own atmosphere, it doesn't really stick with characters long enough, and its villains are flat and characterless. It reads like Tomb Raider. I'd buy the video game, if it existed, but as a book, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ladyguinevere on 3 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is geared toward young adults and older kids, I think, but as an adult, I really enjoyed it too. It's in the same vein as Lemony Snicket - a fun and quirky adventure story, but based largely on Inuit mythology, which is an unusual and interesting twist. I bought the book because I'm interested in the arctic and Inuit mythology, and they were creatively used in this story, with a misfit cast of characters who are all pretty likeable and have good strength of character. The plot was a pretty straightforward adventure plot, so there were no great surprises there and it didn't have any great depth, but it was a good yarn and was very much enjoyed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jane on 24 April 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book. It is really exciting, fast paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The characters are so interesting and very different - it reminds me of a Philip Pullman novel.
Highly recommended!!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE on 3 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a tale of an albino girl called 'Light', who is half Inuit, half Irish. She lives in a large Manor in Ireland with just the family retainer, called 'Butler'. Her Inuit mother died some years ago and her father has mysteriously disappeared on one of his expeditions to the Arctic, presumed dead. After the funeral, she begins to wonder what it was her father loved about the Arctic and Inuit traditions. Then things start to happen, creatures from the North appear and a shark-headed man 'Tupilak' also arrives to take care of them. Light is convinced that her father is alive, and has been kidnapped by Frost, the king of the cold. She has to go North and sort things out, and a terrifying adventure awaits her in the kingdom of ice...

We read this novel for our book group and all agreed that it was great fun, and once things took off, it was surprisingly bloodthirsty! The author has successfully combined Inuit folklore with the more English version (though probably of Viking origin) of Jack Frost and set it all firmly in the present. The main characters are great - Tupilak, the shark-man with the legs of a polar bear is a fierce avenging monster; Butler with his moving tattoos is strong and enigmatic; and Light is an intriguing heroine, but not much is made of her being albino - it's just the way she is, and all will be explained later of course.

The title comes from the poem 'Frost at Midnight' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge which opens - "The frost performs its secret ministry, Unhelped by any wind.", and reading that poem with hindsight, it has obviously been a strong inspiration for the novel, as has The Northern Lights (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman.
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