Snowblooded, by Emma Sterner-Radley

The Book

Pages: 400
Age Group: Adult
Published on 5/9/2024
Publisher: Solaris
Gaslamp Fantasy
Available on:


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.  

My Review

Snowblooded is a gaslamp fantasy novel, which represents the traditional debut of Emma Sterner-Radley, published by Solaris. A thrilling story about assassins and conspirations in a Scandinavian setting, with an excellent cast of characters and featuring queer romancing as part of the plot.

Valour and Petrichor are top members of the Order of Axsten, an assassins' guild under the orders of Vinterstock leader that is tasked with keeping the order in this cold city; both were raised in competition with the other, creating a strong sense of rivalry between them. Two different ways of act: Valour solves her task with brawn, while Petrichor leans toward a more gentleman approach.
Things get especially difficult when both are tasked with their biggest job: killing Brandquist, the leader of Vinterstock's illegal magic trade. A job whose reward is enough to allow them to pay their debt with their order and start new lives; but their rivalry is just the first obstacle on that path. At the same time, Valour is practically forced to protect Ingrid Rytterdahl, an attractive aristocrat whose father owns the hotel where Valour stays, putting the mission in a more precarious position.

Sterner-Radley takes this premise and elevates it to create a really entertaining story, with space for banter while not losing the seriousness of the task our characters are trying to deal with. Particularly, I find relatable how Valour and Petrichor can be described as different faces of the same coin: both raised by the guild, similar pasts, and always competing for the approval; however, as a consequence, both have developed different ways to cope with that trauma. Valour and Petrichor are prone to confront each other and often end insulting each other, bringing us many fun moments; but it is proven that, with time, they can grow over their differences, as most of them were just created by the influence of others.
While Ingrid seemed to be just a secondary character, she ends having a more prominent role than I expected in the plot; and honestly, her chemistry with Valour ends evolving into a dangerous romance which gifts us some steamy moments that certainly help us to keep with the glacial setting of Vinterstock.

Talking about Vinterstock, it is refreshing to have a gaslamp fantasy which is inspired by Scandinavia; idioms and expressions imported from them, and even in the mythology you can guess the inspiration. Said that, Vinterstock is a brutal city, where the power is corrupt and difficult to stop; the order of Axsten is just a reflection of what we could expect from the city.
The pacing is a bit slow for what you might expect for this kind of story, but that allows for a better character developing, warming our hearts and making us care about them; tension is well managed, and we are gifted some great action scenes, which creates a really enjoyable reading experience.

Snowblooded is a really powerful debut novel; a delight of read if you like ambitious characters, conspirations and complex plots with a touch of mystery. A standalone, but a world that I wouldn't mind to return again!

The Author/s

Emma Sterner-Radley

Emma Sterner-Radley

Emma Sterner-Radley is an ex-librarian (with the student debt and caffeine addiction to prove it) turned fantasy author. 

Originally Swedish, she now lives with her wife and two cats in Chester, Great Britain.

She spends her time writing, reading, daydreaming, lifting weights, hanging out online, and watching the gayest TV shows she can find.