Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Touch Of Frost (Mythos Academy #1), Jennifer Estep

1 star2 star3 star
A Touch Of Frost, Jennifer Estep 
Release Date: July 26th 2011
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Age Group: Young Adult

'Gypsy Girl', Gwen Frost, has a gift. It actually rather suits her temperament, given she's prone to insatiable curiosity about her classmates' private lives. She might not fit in at her super-exclusive boarding school, patronized by the obscenely wealthy sons and daughters of mythological figures, but she's certainly clued in: one touch of an object (or a person), and Gwen can see things. Who owned it, who touched it, what they were thinking, feeling, and all their deepest darkest secrets. Sure makes intimacy a bitch.

Gwen's world takes a turn from bizarre to outright deadly when Mythos Academy's reigning Queen Bee/Mean Girl is found murdered in the school library, and she decides to put her talents to use to investigate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Our Heroine:

My first impression of Gwen Frost was as a paranormal Veronica Mars. Talent for seeing things others can't? Check. Haunted by loss of dead friend/relative? Check. Sassy social pariah? Check, and so forth.

But she's not Veronica. At first, the sassiness, to me, seemed forced, and the faux 'teen-speak' (like, you know, totally) grated. This, however, did not make A Touch Of Frost (get it! A 'touch', and her name's 'Frost'! OMG! Funnies!) an unenjoyable read. As the book proceeded, I swiftly settled into Gwen's voice, and was completely absorbed. It's compelling, and the mystery gripped me. Whodunit? Why? How? What the hell is the significance of the bowl? The sword? Why do the teachers seem so knowing and creepy?

She's interesting (and sounds just like a juvenile Gin Blanco with a few 'like, you knows' added to her dialogue). She's flawed, imperfect, but cares deeply about her Grandma--her only surviving relative. At first her nosiness annoyed me, but this faded as the story proceeded. What I did enjoy was seeing real, measurable, character growth over the course of the book. Gwen doesn't finish the book as the same Gwen Frost she started it as. Over the course of the book, she sheds her insecurities, and the shell she isolates herself in. She overcomes grief and loss, and grows.

"Um, nice kitty?" The panther’s eyes narrowed, fire blazing in the red depths, and it let out that hissing sound again. No, no, no. Not a nice kitty at all.

Let’s Talk About LURVE

A Touch Of Frost has a romantic sub-plot going, but it’s a subplot, and it’s YA. So you’re going to get longing stares, crushing, Twilight-worthy descriptions of chiseled abs and ice-blue eyes, and, at this stage, not much more. I’m really keen to see where Estep takes this, though. Our friendly neighbourhood Spartan-In-Shining-Armour is hiding something. Hidden depths, perhaps? Hmmm…

I loved the side story involving a reformed-mean girl and band geek, which was very sweet.

Wrapping It Up:

Where, Estep's Spider's Bite/Elemental Assassin books irritated me, A Touch Of Frost succeeds. The constant repetition and retelling of events that characterised the series (and frustrated me no end--they would have been fantastic, otherwise) is pared back, and we don't get infodumped. We learn more about Gwen's world as she learns more about it. Her past is revealed bit by bit, and the story had me hooked.  This is definitely a read for YA fans. If teen-speak and YA aren't your thing, then neither is this book.

I love a good gods/myth style story: Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Joanne Harris' Runemarks, Xena, Warrior Princess (don't tell anyone about that last one). There's something utterly compelling about omnipotent beings even more screwed up than us, and the scheming, plotting and in-fighting.

Estep has outdone herself. Percy Jackson meets Vampire Academy, A Touch Of Frost creates a compelling setup for what seems a really promising series.

Books in This Series:

  1. A Touch Of Frost
  2. Kiss Of Frost (29 Nov. 2011)
  3. Dark Frost (29. May 2012)

Want It?

Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy) at Booktopia
Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy) at Amazon


  1. This is definitely a thorough review, but a great one too! I've always been really curious about this book, but never taken the step to actually pic it up. I have to admit being even more curious now though!

  2. Thanks Rebecca! No matter how hard I try, I never seem to get a handle on brevity: I'll review a short story and end up with an essay!
    I was surprised by ATOF.

    The writing in Estep's Elemental Assassin series really annoyed me (she repeats herself, infodumps and recaps a LOT), and I was actually expecting not to like this book. I was very happy to be proven wrong :)

    Hope you like it if you give it a read!

  3. I bought this a couple of weeks back, but it's just sitting sad and lonely on my shelf because I don't have the time to read it--your review makes me wanna pick it up more, lol.

    Rachel @ The Rest Is Still Unwritten

  4. I got it as an eBook and it sat there for MONTHS. I ended up reading Estep's Elemental Assassins, the realised it was the same author, and read it then! I was surprised--I liked it more than the EA books, which I thought we fun, but average.

    Hope you like it when you get to it :)

  5. LOL! I think my copy most likely WILL sit there for months. Too many great books to choose from :)

    I love anything Greek myth, but I've read a few of those kinds of books recently including Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout, so I'm putting if off for a while--I want something different.

    Rachel @ The Rest Is Still Unwritten

  6. Good idea--I go on total book binges, and read everything I can find in a single genre, then don't remember which detail belonged to which books! I think I enjoyed it particularly as it was first YA in awhile :)

  7. Ha! I've done that too, especially when people talk the books up so much. You just HAVE to read them as soon as possible :)
    I've been reading a tonne of YA books lately myself, but I'm reading a PNR at the moment and I must admit it's nice to be reading something different. Think that's why I'm enjoying it, lol.

    Rachel @ The Rest Is Still Unwritten

  8. Yes! I had been on a major YA kick when I discovered PNR in the way of Night Huntress, and went in that direction. I got so burned out with it I spent a few weeks this year where I swear I read nothing but historical romance. I think I read 13 books by Julia Quinn in the space of 2 weeks :D

  9. Having said that, I'm back to enjoying PNR in a MAJOR way. *Must learn to have balanced book-intake diet*

  10. I need to read the Night Huntress books. I've heard nothing but good things about them and hopefully I'll get around to them in the new year.
    Oh, I know what you mean there! I'm not really a fan of historical romance, but I totally get what you mean. I read all of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter books straight out at the beginning of this year. All 18 of them =D

    YES! I so need that diet too. I mostly read YA (and love it), but I need a good PNR regularly to keep me sane.

    Rachel @ The Rest Is Still Unwritten

  11. Me too. I need a bit of adult in there.
    You know, before this year, I'd never read what I'd call a 'real' romance novel, or historical at all... and then I fell in lurve! Ha!
    Do read Night Huntress if you get a chance--they're fab, fab books, and they seriously are as good as everyone says.

    Home time! Woot!

  12. Ditto. I'm only just out of my teens, but still all that "teen angst" can get a bit much at times :)
    Hmmmm, I'll bump them up my list some more. I'm sure once I've read them I'll wonder how I ever lived without them ;)

    Haha, enjoy! Chao!

    Rachel @ The Rest Is Still Unwritten

  13. Hehe, I'm 27 and I kind if cant believe it. I swear I was still a teenager only a year or so ago XD

  14. Hmmm, after reading this review I'm kinda on the fence about reading it. I only rarely read YA and I only read it when it's highly recommended. I do love Estep's Elemental Assassin Series (despite the horrible infodumps and recaps) so I was thinking of giving her YA series a try. I'm conflicted now.

    We kind of review books in a similar way. I like that. :) Yay us!



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