This was on my list of SPFBO19 books for the first round. It has much to commend. The opening two chapters place you in an intriguing world, where a young woman, Ynya, returns from a few days away from her village to find everyone slaughtered, including her family. Her mother has managed to barely stay alive in order to transfer her power to Ynya. This power is not well-defined, though, and as the book progresses, I was a bit confused about how it actually worked. However, this could be due to the book being the first in a series. Ynya controls heat, and can transfer it, but at a cost to her strength and her own ability to maintain body heat. More often than not, she ends up using her hair as a transfer device, which I found a bit strange. Hair burns, yet it wasn't mentioned how she was able to maintain her gorgeous red locks.
One element I particularly liked was the relationship between Ynya and her sister, Synol. It wasn't trite, and cleverly depicted the angst yet love they shared for one another. It was the strongest element of the book, by far.
Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the plot at all. It jumped all around the place, with Ynya making stupid choices again and again, as if she was a victim being pulled about with no say in the matter. However, her own stupidity led to one catastrophe after another. The driving force of the plot seemed to be Ynya wanting to rescue her sisters, yet we only get introduced to Synol and not the others (barely at all, that is). The antagonist, the Frost Queen, is just some big, scary monster out there with no real fear factor, since we only get two brief glimpses of her. Apparently she is searching for these sisters and destroying villages to do it, but other than that, it is unclear what is really going on.
The writing wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the best I've read. Tenses change, the language is a bit stilted, and the conversations don't flow very naturally. Of course, most of that is subjective. However, grammar errors and spelling mistakes make for a frustrating reading experience, and between those and the tense issues, I feel this could have used a few more rounds of beta readers and a good editor.
All that to say, the bare bones are there. The characters are likable, there are a couple of good themes, and Ynya has the potential to be a strong leading character. She is fierce and courageous for all of her unwise choices. With some streamlining to the plot, fleshing out the magic a bit more, and editing, this could be a solid book. I wish the author all the best in their writing career. Putting yourself out there for critique is hard, and I appreciate the courage it takes.