Top critical review
Such a disappointment. Reads like bad fan fiction.
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2019
Spoilers after this first paragraph. Let me be the devil's advocate on this book. Being a huge Frozen fan, I found this very hard to read because Anna and Elsa are way out of character. Since the story of this book takes place three years after the great thaw, it takes place at the same time as Frozen II, which is odd since it's supposed to bridge the first movie to the second. Someone didn't think this through even though the producers of both movies have given input and the green light to this story. I was so excited for this bridge between the movies but I found that this book adds nothing. The sisters act as if they never bonded before this book. Anna is passive aggressive, has very low self-esteem, is insecure, is apprehensive about asking Elsa anything, is not expressive, and is hesitant with offering to assist Elsa in her royal duties. The book is written pretty much through the eyes of Anna, much like Frozen. Elsa is careless with her use of pronouns, using "me" instead of "us", excludes Anna from meetings and such, as if she is totally unaware of how Anna is feeling, does not communicate with her sister, and does not enlist her sister's assistance with her royal duties, which is never the case with any other story or comic that has come out after Frozen. To me, this is a bunch of gimmicks to make this story work. And I found the over use of analogies to describe scenes, feelings, and objects excessive. Three analogies to describe something is fluff. This book could have easily fit on less than 200 pages.
Now for the spoilers, but not the entire story of this book. The crux of Anna's angst is not being invited to join Elsa on a royal tour, a story not unlike the short story/comic "Across the Sea" where the sisters visit other kingdoms. Anna's afraid to ask Elsa to join and Elsa doesn't tell Anna what she has planned for her while she's on the tour. Seriously flawed. The sisters communicate well and they spend a lot of time together bonding. In this story, Anna is afraid to offer assistance to Elsa because she thinks Elsa sees her as useless. Really?? What about the "Anna Takes Charge" book where Anna steps in for Elsa while Elsa goes off on a short trip? Or the "Anna in Charge" short story where Elsa leaves Anna a loving note of all her good qualities that she could call upon to solve the kingdom's problems while Elsa's away? And Elsa is too busy to notice Anna or ask for assistance to her royal duties. This is so unlike the other stories and comics, which apply to Frozen because Olina, who manages the royal kitchen, is a character from that world and she's used in this story. From the ebook "Phantom of Arendelle" Elsa states Anna should be by her side helping her. In "All Hail the Queen", Anna realizes she needs to take care of Elsa and Kai arranges set days and time for Elsa to hold court to help her kingdom so she isn't overworked. And Elsa loves helping the villagers. She has also become comfortable interacting with them. All this is ignored in this book. Sorry, Elsa is not afraid of being a bad queen or failing the kingdom, she is afraid of messing everything up, especially the family that she has with Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven, in addition to being a bad queen. That's why she would seek the assistance of her sister. But not in this book
In the scene where the sisters and Kristoff are skating on a frozen river to get to Sorenson, Anna feels no one skates faster or better than Elsa. And Anna is described as being an okay skater after Elsa had helped her become more comfortable with skating. Then Anna and Kristoff have a wipeout, creating a light moment for her and Kristoff. Elsa is annoyed at her sister rather than concerned, which is out of character. Then Anna perceives Elsa as being angry at her so she skates off in anger, requiring a rescue from Elsa and Kristoff. Why Elsa couldn't catch up to her sister is curious. Also, Anna is expressive. She would have had an outburst, not skate off in silence, anger, and frustration. So out of character for both it was painful to continue reading.
Then there's the introduction of a secret room with books on magic and a nightmare and this story smells alot like bad fan fiction where the sisters along with Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven have to run around the kingdom. Not very imaginative, especially with the set up of a perceived "bad guy" in Wael, the investigative hardnose reporter, so that there could be a great reveal of Elsa's proclaimation of having Anna be in charge while she's away because for some reason, Elsa wouldn't ask Anna first if she'd like that. It looks like the sisters didn't communicate for three years after Anna saved the kingdom and her sister.
At first I put down the book after reading 73 pages. Then I gave it another shot reading to 100 pages before I decided to read the last few chapters to see if I would like the ending enough to read the entire book. Well, I finished it and here's this review. Painful to read for the last two weeks. The attempts to tie some of the things we saw in the Frozen II trailers and the early books of Frozen II is very weak. And the epilogue is based on what happens in Elsa's room after the charades scene in Frozen II even though the movie has not been released. That and all other references of Frozen II in this story do not tie the two movies together. All of it could have been omitted from this book. What ties the movies together are all the other fantastic books such as the nine "Anna and Elsa: Sisterhood is the Strongest Magic" books and the comics from the Frozen magazines which are also compiled in various other forms in books such as the "Frozen Storybook Collection" and "Frozen 5 Minute Stories" because in Frozen II, the sisters are very communicative and caring, just like in "Frozen Fever" and "Olaf's Frozen Adventure".
And before anyone claim that Jennifer Lee has stated that FF and OFA are not part of the story or "canon", which seems to be true that she did claim that, they do apply. The evidence is in the clock tower. Other than in "Love is an Open Door", the clock tower does not exist in Frozen. Not there in the zoom out shots of Arendelle. I've enjoyed the movie over 225 times and have single stepped through most of the movie and have never found it. Yet, it's in FF and OFA and it's in the background in the Frozen II Arendelle kingdom shots of the trailers. I have not seen this mentioned from anyone in the Frozen fandom. So the short and featurette apply to the story no matter what anyone claims, including the creators of Frozen. This book, however, does not seem to fit into the Frozen story at all. Thanks for reading. You might like this book. I did not.
Oh, I forgot to mention that there is a female same sex couple in it right from the beginning and half of that couple plays a small role in the end. It was probably thrown in to satisfy the fandom that supports giving Elsa a girlfrield. Sadly, this also does not add anything to the Frozen story.