Friday, August 26, 2011
A Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
This is the first book in a new young adult series by Estep, who has had great success with her Elemental Assassin series for (more or less) adults, called Mythos Academy. Gwen Frost is a new student at the Mythos Academy, where the descendents of the heroes of old, such as the Valkyries and Spartans, send their spoiled, rich children to be educated, trained in the tradition of fighting against evil. Gwen's family are Gypsies, and she had to leave her "normal" school when her mother died in a car accident, to attend with others who have either magical or martial talents (Hogwarts, U.S.A?).
There seems to be some tie-in with the Elemental Assassin series, as this novel takes place near Ashland, where Gin Blanco and her friends live, and there's even some mention of The Pork Pit, Gin's BBQ joint. Gwen has no friends at the school, and is shunned by most of the students there, for her lack of social standing, and her obvious poverty. She has an ability to find lost items, and get flashes of psychic impressions from objects that she touches, and as the novel begins she is using her talent, for pay, to find a lost charm bracelet for one of the popular kids.
When there is a murder in the Mythos Academy library, where Gwen works, and she is a witness to the event, she begins to use her talent, and a touch of natural nosiness and sneakiness, to investigate the affair on her own. She acquires a few unlikely allies among the students, and the more dangerous things get, the more stubbornly she pokes and prods at things.
So, as I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of young adult fiction. This one has all the usual elements for success: a social misfit heroine, bullies and braggarts, teen cliques and adults who refuse to tell Gwen everything she wants to know when she wants to know it. I'm sure it will be enjoyed by the Twilight and Harry Potter crowd, though it's not my cup of tea. Estep is a great writer, who will surely keep the quality high and the action interesting throughout the rest of the series.