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Pub Date 9 May 2024 | Archive Date 2 May 2024

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The Princess Bride meets Six of Crows in this uproarious Scandinavian fantasy of assassins, magic potions, romance and rivalry.

Valour and Petrichor are esteemed members of the Order of Axsten, an assassin’s guild tasked with keeping order in the rough city of Vinterstock. Plucked from the streets as children and raised to compete for their guild’s approval, Valour uses her brawn to survive, while Petrichor strives to be a gentleman assassin. When they’re given their biggest job yet—to kill Brandquist, the mysterious leader of the city's illegal magic trade—it’s a recipe for disaster. If they can quell their rivalry long enough, the reward will be enough to settle their debts with the Order and start new lives.

If this job wasn’t dangerous enough, Valour is saddled with protecting the aristocrat, Ingrid Rytterdahl. Valour finds her dangerously attractive, but Petrichor can’t wait to be rid of them both. He begrudgingly accepts Ingrid’s knowledge and connections as they navigate the city’s criminal underbelly in pursuit of Brandquist.

As secrets bubble to the surface, the duo must outwit the thugs on their tail, keep Ingrid alive, and—hardest of all—work together without murdering each other.

The Princess Bride meets Six of Crows in this uproarious Scandinavian fantasy of assassins, magic potions, romance and rivalry.

Valour and Petrichor are esteemed members of the Order of Axsten, an...

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ISBN 9781837860685
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Featured Reviews

Plucked from the streets as children and raised to compete for their guild’s approval, Valour uses her brawn to survive, while Petrichor strives ti be a gentleman assassin. If they can quell their rivalry enough, as this job is bigger than them both, and the reward will be enough to settle their debts to the Order. And start new lives. If this wasn’t enough, Valour is saddled with protecting the aristocrat, Ingrid Rytterdahl.

Valour finds her dangerously attractive but Petrichor couldn’t care less and would prefer to be rid of them both. He begrudgingly accepts Ingrid’s knowledge and connections as they navigate the cities criminal underbelly in pursuit of their prey. As secrets bubble to the surface, the duo must outwit the enemy on their tail, keep Ingrid alive.

And, hardest of all, work together without murdering each other. An atmospheric story set in a wintry city, filled with brilliant characters and banter, and an adventure that will keep you reading long into the night. This book is filled with a vivid group of characters, each with their own well developed personalities and back stories, filled with an incredible and intricate plot and a dash of magic, this book should be on everyone’s list.

𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰 𝘚𝘰𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺 𝘷𝘪𝘢 𝘕𝘦𝘵𝘎𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘚𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘌𝘮𝘮𝘢 𝘚𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘳-𝘙𝘢𝘥𝘭𝘦𝘺

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It's not often that I start reading an eARC immediately upon receiving it but I've had this book on my radar for months and was thrilled when I was approved to read it! Snowblooded has been described as "The Princess Bride meets Six of Crows" and I'd agree this is a fitting comparison. Centred around two not quite rival assassins from an established (and legal!) order in a town in Sweden, Valour and Petrichor (designations not names for the members) are assigned to carry out an assassination together. As the two newest and youngest members of the Order of Axsten, they were always trained and taught to despise each other, and in general to keep themselves isolated and focus on being detached and efficient killers. With a hunt for a mysterious crime boss to undertake and Ingrid, the local hotelier's rebellious daughter to supervise, secrets and lies from across Vinterstock are revealed as layer upon layer of truths are uncovered. I loved this book, from the snarky banter between the main characters, to the period nordic setting, everything just worked together perfectly. Becoming emotionally attached to two assassins was not what I was expecting from a book but here we are.

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A masterpiece of a dark adventure!

Valour and Petrichor are the perfect team of assassins, perfectly complimenting one another when tasked with the job of killing an evasive cult leader. Their missions evolves when Valour finds aristocrat, Ingrid, she must protect also very attractive, but they need her knowledge of the target to help guide the success of their mission.

A fantastic adventure, with darker mysteries and thrills with every turn of the page. Emma builds a world that is magical but dangerous, painting such detailed imagery that makes the reader feel a part of the story from start to end. Skilled and smart, but with unique qualities that only strengthen their team, there was no one better for the job that Valour and Petrichor. Much lead them to be where they were and they’d shared experiences and been through things that when we learned about them, their undeniable bond and synchronicity in their work was founded on all they’d done to survive. Their connection was what intrigued me at first then kept me hooked throughout the whole story, because as predictable as I thought they were at times, one or the other would always surprise me and provide an opportunity to learn something new about them in the process.

What’s so clever in this fantasy is the jokey tone that underlines the camaraderie between Valour and Petrichor. It provides relief in intense moments and lightens the mood between the darker elements they are dealing with while on their mission. It lends extremely well when Ingrid becomes a part of their team because her presence adds a certain amount of tension between Valour and Petrichor, adding extra complication and making them even more relatable to me, establishing that understanding and empathy needed to really connect with the characters.

I completely fell in love with this story, the characters, and the way it made me feel when reading it and after. Emma is a very talented fantasy writer, such a creative imagination, who brings the most imaginative and magical stories to life, and Snowblooded was a testament to her talent for this genre. This is definitely a story I’ll return to again and again, and always enjoy.

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Two assassins. Petrichor and Valour hate each other, but are ordered by the Guild to work together to kill Vinterstock's dealer of illegal magic tonics: the illusive one known as 'Brandquist'. A corrupt city. Much more is afoot than meets the eye and treachery waits on every corner. Valour is headstrong, with a penchant for honeyed cardamom buns, and plagued by nightmares of her childhood. Petrichor likes to be in control, cravat-wearing and meticulous, he longs to better himself but lacks the means. Forced to cooperate to unearth Brandquist's secrets, the assassins also team up with aristocratic Ingrid Rytterdahl, much to Petrichor's displeasure. With Valour distracted by Ingrid's charming allure, will the unlikely trio ever eliminate their mark? Or will someone else eliminate them first?
Filled with twists and turns, this magical fantasy set in Sweden is a page-turner that keeps you guessing. The characters have depth: it's clear they're shaped by their experiences and have natural flaws. The use of dual POV means we appreciate both assassin's perspectives as they uncover the secrets hiding in Vinterstock's foundations. With queer representation and elements of romance, this winter mystery will appeal to YA readers who enjoy an intrigue and excellent world-building.

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Assassin’s Swede

Valour and Petrichor grew up in the Order of Axsten, an assassin’s guild in the wintery city of Vinterstock. An entirely official and sanctioned guild, I should add, who “handle” difficult problems for the city’s ruling class.

They have very different, yet still very successful, approaches to their work. Valour is blunt force trauma with a heart of gold. She only kills those who she feels actually deserve it, and frequently suffers the ire of the Order for her idealistic approach. Petrichor is more of a precise surgeon - albeit one with high patient mortality, and no bedside manner whatsoever. They have a suitably antagonistic relationship, and the last thing either of them wants to do is to work together. And yet, they have one thing in common, they both want out of the Order and to have the chance of a normal life.

And so, they are given one last job, together. One that will pay well enough that they can buy their respective freedoms. All they need to do is find and kill Brandquist, the head of a shadowy criminal organisation that has flooded the city with addictive magical potions, Well, that and also not kill each other in the process.

Ah, you are thinking, this sounds like the perfect setup for an enemies to lovers romance. And you would be dead wrong. For Valour is also burdened with babysitting Ingrid, a wealthy, well-connected socialite, who has been targeted by Brandquist’s gang. Unfortunately for Valour, Ingrid is a wealthy, well-connected, and annoyingly attractive, socialite. And a pretty flirtatious one at that. So, she needs to keep her close to keep her alive, but not too close that she can’t do her job. Oh, the sapphic sexual tension!

I really enjoyed this book, and I’d love to read more set in this universe. The city itself is a pretty grim place, and obviously our two POV characters are literally assassins so it does involve quite a bit of murdering, but there is amusing banter between all of them, and the growing relationships definitely help to offset the darker tone. It’s not exactly cosy fantasy, but their hideout sure feels pretty cosy sometimes as they shelter from the falling snow. There are plenty of twists and turns, and the book feels the perfect length to deliver an entertaining and notably self-contained story. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Rebellion Publishing for the review copy.

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I absolutely loved Snowblooded by Emma Sterner-Radley!
It was really well written and was really hard to put down once I got into it.

It was a amazing Scandinavian fantasy and the world building was just excellent with the world just coming to life.
I also loved the 2 assassin main characters Valour and Petrichor.

I definitely highly recommend reading this book and you won't regret it!
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a review.

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" 'People handle being broken in different ways. Some try to look for the light in the world and in themselves. Some lean into the dark.' She wiped her nose with her glove. 'Anything to keep from being hurt again.' "

After being raised in an elite order of assassins, Valour and Petrichor are tasked with tracking down —and killing— the drug lord that controls the city. To avoid being killed by mysterious attackers and locate their target, they must begrudgingly accept Ingrid's help, a hotel heiress.

This is the first time I've read a book that reminded me enough of Crooked Kingdom while masterfully mantaining its originality. It was a delightful tale of duty, identity and love (not just the romantic type) from start to finish.

Let's start of with the setting: an alternative-history-like Sweden plagued by magical tonic addicts and covered in several feet of snow. I haven't seen snow since I was a little girl, but reading this book made me feel like my toes were seconds away from getting frostbite (in the best way possible).

"If justice has to be served surreptitiously, and without set and checkable parameters, is it still justice?"
Despite the plot being on the slower end of the spectrum, it managed to keep me hooked, especially as soon as several twists went off like firecrackers. From the drug trade and Brandquist's identity to the ethical debate on social classes and duty to power, I enjoyed every word. Other topics such as queerness, feminism and bodily autonomyb are discussed as well, but they do take the backseat.

"Ingrid Rytherdahl was too quick, too much, too close, too confusing, too magnificent for Valour. But gods, she was irresistible."
Now, onto my absolute favourite part: the characters. I was thrilled to read Ingrid and Valour's relationship as it developed, but I must admit that the dynamic that captured me the most was that of Valour and Petrichor's. It was heartwarming seeing the almost-but-not-quite siblings progress through their internal and external challenges and realise they were stronger as allies than as enemies.

" 'You know that it's alright, don't you?' 'What is?' 'What you do. What you are. You're so hard on yourself and there is no need. You are trying your best and that is more than enough, Valour. "
'Snowblooded' placed a lot of significance on names and identity, and I'd say that this is the main issue in the book, beyond drug lords and political intrigue. Valour and Petrichor must find who they are further than what they've been raised as, and the psychological limits their names have placed on them.

All in all, I loved 'Snowblooded'. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, sapphic romances and excellent character development.

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