Review originally posted on Basia's Bookshelf
From the outside, Mythos Academy looks like every other boarding school. Haunting, old stone buildings filled with wealthy students wearing the most expensive name brand clothing and accessories. If you were to look closer however, you'd notice a few strange differences. For one, the buildings are guarded by mythical creatures such as sphinxes and gargoyles. For another, most students are carrying around swords, bows or staffs. Mythos Academy is home to warriors - real, live mythological warriors. Amazons, Valkyries, Vikings and Romans tend to be the most common, but there are also Spartans, Celts, Trojans and a few others. The students attending Mythos Academy are descendants of these historical groups, and are there to train and improve their inherent fighting and magical abilities.
Gwen is the odd woman out. She is a gypsy, and her special talent is psychometry - the ability to touch an object and know, feel and see its history. Gwen enjoys her gift, and she secretly delights in knowing people's secrets. She is no warrior, and in fact is quite clumsy and uncoordinated. Gwen is new to the academy, and is not rich or popular and doesn't fit in. She ignores the other students and they ignore her. Two months into the semester, Gwen is late leaving her job at the library and stumbles on to the body of the most popular girl at school. The dead body of the most popular girl at school. While not the biggest fan of Jasmine Ashton when she was alive, Gwen is nonetheless unsatisfied with the amount of attention paid to her death. She decides to begin a little investigation on her own, and on the way she tangles with mystical beasts and the hottest, most deadly boy in school.
I don't think I'll ever grow tired of reading books set in a private academy. An author is able to create their own little world within a world, and each time I'm amazed at how different and exciting an author can make what is essentially a bunch of old buildings that house teenagers. Touch of Frost
is Jennifer Estep's first foray in the young adult genre and I am giddy with pleasure that she made the jump.
Gwen is the kind of young adult character that I enjoy spending my time on. She knows who she is and is okay with it. She doesn't make stupid decisions that make me roll my eyes with disgust. She has a great sense of humor and while she may not be very popular in the beginning, she slowly wins a few people over and has a few good friends by the end of the story. The majority of the book is Gwen and her thoughts. Told in first person, there actually isn't a ton of dialogue in the beginning. She has a few conversations with people, but mostly it's Gwen's witty observations and daily activities. Surprisingly, the absence of dialogue didn't bother me. The only reason why I noticed it in the first place is because Gwen's utter loneliness made me sniffle a bit. I've been the new student in school that has no friends and eats lunch by herself. We bonded, Gwen and I.
The side characters are fun and lovable, but I felt had minor roles. Even the love interest, Logan Quinn, only had a few scenes. They were very important scenes, but he wasn't there enough for me to have any feelings about him either way. Only enough to say that if he breaks Gwen's heart I might be bustin' out my own warrior abilities (of which there are none) to have it out with him. You're on shaky ground Logan Quinn, so watch your step mister. The romance had a similar feel to Ms. Estep's elemental assassin series. It's there, but it's not the main focus. It seemed like the romance storyline is there mainly to give Gwen something to do when she's not sleuthing. My Summary:
Touch of Frost was a solid beginning to what I can tell is going to be a great young adult series. It's original and fresh in a genre saturated with boarding school tales. Gwen is the kind of character I can get behind and will give up a few hours of sleep for. I can't wait to see what kind of trouble Gwen gets into next! My Rating: A+