Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Series: Mythos Academy #1
Published by K-Teen
Published on: August 1, 2011
Genres: Young Adult
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My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy -- a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.
But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why – especially since I should have been the one who died...
In the face of months of separation from Gin Blanco while I hungrily await the next Elemental Assassin installment I decided to give Jennifer Estep’s Young Adult books a whirl. I’m not a huge reader of this genre but every so often I venture out of my comfort zone and Touch of Frost turned out to be an excellent choice. The age of the characters may have changed but Estep’s terrific world-building, unique magics and action driven plot still remain at the forefront of this story which are the main reasons I enjoy her writing so much anyway so the fact that this tale unfolds in high school quickly became a non-issue. Besides, even I enjoy some good mean girl drama just so long as the characters are mature and Gwen Frost is indeed a very grown-up 17 year old.
I like that this series features Valkyries, Amazons and Spartans instead of the typical vamps and weres; it made the Mythos Academy universe captivating from the get-go. Instead of looking for the one trait that will set her paranormals apart from the crowd, Estep goes completely off the reservation by incorporating Norse mythology instead. I enjoyed learning about these creatures through Gwen’s eyes because, coming from a “normal” school, she was as skeptical about their impossible natures as I was. It’s hard to avoid information dumps in the first installment of a series but Jennifer cleverly disguises them as lessons in Frost’s classes which I found much more enjoyable than the standard format.
At first glance, the plot seems relatively straightforward: a girl is murdered and Gwen’s on a mission to find the killer. However, the story quickly morphs into so much more and also helps set the tone for future installments in this series. I appreciated the fact that amidst all of the drama, the school setting never gets forgotten. Frost may have bigger fish to fry but she still has to write that darned myth-history essay. I find that a lot of the time in Young Adult fiction the author forgets that her characters are still supposed to attend class and do homework. This is a personal pet peeve of mine so I’m glad that Estep didn’t make the same mistake that I’ve encountered countless times before.
Gwen Frost is an easy character to like; she’s feisty, intelligent and just an all-around good person. The most popular girl in school gets murdered and none of her classmates even bat an eye. I like that she cares about everyone, even the mean girl. She learns a few very important life lessons in this book which is another pivotal element to a good story in my opinion. I have no use for whiny characters that don’t evolve over the course of a series. I think Gwen definitely has potential and I enjoyed witnessing the first phase of her transformation from “that Gypsy girl” to something more.
Gwen is definitely no Elemental Assassin but I loved Estep’s little hat tip to the Pork Pit; I didn’t expect any mention of her Urban Fantasy series in this book so I couldn’t help but crack a little smile at the mention of BBQ. Vic was a lot of fun too and a great example of an element that’s cute in a Young Adult setting but would be absolutely ridiculous in a more grown-up tale. Touch of Frost is proof that a talented author can win you over with a great story no matter the genre.