Gwen Frost is an outsider at 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. Gwen is an outsider both to the students of the Academy and the rest of the world. But when her gift of psychometry – the ability to know an object's history just by touching it reveals dark undercurrents and danger afoot, she has no choice but to get involved.
And here is Elyssa's review:
Okay, I'm cheating a little here. I actually read this book for Smart Bitches Book Club when Sarah chose it last year or so. But I've reread it a bunch of times since then. One of the main reasons I decided to read this book (besides it being a book club pick) was because it took place at a boarding school for kids with supernatural abilities. So I was thinking: ohhhh like Harry Potter meets X-Men. So confession: I obviously live under a rock because I'd never heard of Jennifer Estep before I picked up TOUCH OF FROST. (I am fairly new to reading Urban Fantasy so it's totally my fault.)
Anyway, I read TOUCH OF FROST and loved it, and have been a bit of an Amazon stalker to see when each book in the next series releases. I also have the first two Assasin series Jennifer writes—but haven't yet read because I have a sinking suspicion that once I read them, I'll immediately buy the rest. Which I've done with other series. cough Ilona Andrews cough
So basic summary of TOUCH OF FROST, which is the first book of this YA series: Gwen is sent to boarding school–much to her dismay–with a bunch of others kids who have all these supernatural abilities. When one of the popular girls is murdered at the school, it's up to Gwen to figure it out.
Gwen is a gypsy and her power is that when she touches an object, she knows where it comes from and gets all the memories from said object. (This can have really harsh consequences as the backstory to Gwen discovering her power was that she used to attend a normal high school and picked up another girl's hair brush in the gym and got images that the girl was being sexually abused by her father/stepfather.) Gwen is also dealing with her mother's death, which happened fairly recent ago, and the residual grief and struggle Gwen went through felt very real to me.
Because Gwen isn't a Valkyrie or Spartan or some other type of super power, she is pretty much an outcast. She reads and loves comic books, and she has a deep love for her grandmother, who Gwen sneaks out to see. I found Gwen to be very relatable—maybe it was because I never fit in high school myself—but I really was rooting for Gwen throughout the novel and as Gwen eventually came more into her own.
What I also love about TOUCH OF FROST is what Jennifer Estep does with perceived stereotypes. For example the “mean girl” Daphne is a Valkyrie, and, at first, I thought: oh no, Daphne will make Gwen's life a living hell, etc. But Estep doesn't do that. Estep creates in Daphne this real, complex girl who eventually becomes Gwen's best friend and is really smart at computers. I LOVE that Daphne doesn't fall into the stupid bombshell role but that she's smart and has these deep vulnerabilities (she likes a guy that the popular crowd wouldn't approve of her liking but no worries there . . . because this book does have romance in it!). And then there's Logan, who's Gwen's romantic interest. Logan is popular and handsome–and he has a notorious reputation at the boarding school for going through girls. There's a moment in the book when Logan ALMOST kisses Gwen but Gwen pulls back (because if she touches him like that she'll get his memories) and Logan thinks it's because of his reputation and she doesn't like him.
I think why I responded so well to this book was because the situations felt so real to me. The flashes of vulnerabilities in Estep's characters are so well-done, and each one feels so multi-dimensional. The story itself is phenomenal, and I kept reading to see what was going to happen. Some of the things that happened in the book were like OMG NO THAT DIDN'T JUST HAPPEN.
I highly recommend it because it's smart, witty, and has a great emotional pull to the series. I keep telling people to read this sereis because I omg love these books. And, really, I consider Jennifer Estep to be a gobbleglom author because I immediately want to gobble up and glom everything she's written. I will get to the Assassin books, I promise!
Also, I believe that there's a bundle of the TOUCH OF FROST series for a pretty good deal right now in case anyone is interested.