I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey
Series: The Lovegrove Legacy #1
Published by Walker Childrens on January 7, 2014
Source: the publisher
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In 1814, three cousins—Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope—discover their family lineage of witchcraft when a binding spell is broken, allowing their individual magical powers to manifest. Now, beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, an alluring underworld available only to those with power is revealed to the cousins. By claiming their power, the three cousins have accidentally opened the gates to the underworld. Now ghouls, hellhounds—and most terrifying of all, the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters—are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders…because she keeps finding the bodies. Can the cousins seal the gates before another witch is killed…or even worse, before their new gifts are stripped away?
A Breath of Frost was a very frustrating book for me. I’ve read all of Alyxandra Harvey’s other books (The Drake Chronicles, Haunting Violet and Stolen Away) and I’ve loved them all. But the thing that bugs me? Harvey’s writing style is very confusing. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if others have noticed it, too. But I noticed it in Hearts at Stake (Drake Chronicles #1) and in A Breath of Frost.
When I first read Hearts at Stake, I was 80 pages in and so confused, I had to stop and start again. And to read book two, I had to re-read book one. Finally, on that third try, I didn’t feel as confused. Well, something very similar happened with A Breath of Frost. I found myself re-reading chunks of the story, trying to figure out what was going on. Something would happen and then twenty pages later, it was referenced again and I’d sit there going, “Wait.. I don’t remember that happening…” And all of a sudden, they would mention a character and I’d be like, “Wait.. When was this character introduced? I don’t remember!”
Now, I knew from reading her other books that Harvey was an amazing writer with intriguing plots and great characters. I knew if I could get passed the confusing parts, I’d likely love the story. Knowing these things, I pushed forward and, overall, I did enjoy it!
First of all, I love books set in the 19th century. Especially when the book takes place in London. I love the balls, the gowns, the debutantes, the horse-and-carriage mode of transportation. Just the idea of London “society” back then. And I love witches! I love reading about witches and watching shows about witches. So the plot definitely hooked me.
I loved Emma. Despite living in a different time period and being a witch, there was just something about her that made her feel relatable. Though the book is about all three of the Lovegrove cousins, I definitely felt like Emma was the focus of the story. We really got to know her and I felt like I understood what Emma was going through. She had a really cool power that she couldn’t always control – which definitely felt realistic. Sometimes, the main character finds out about a “supernatural” ability and can control it immediately. I hate that because, like anything else, magic needs to be practiced and learned over time.
There were some really shocking twists for Emma during the second half of the book. With the one, I basically figured it out almost immediately, but it’s still fun to get that confirmation. And the other one was completely unexpected, but it answered SO MANY QUESTIONS and everything finally made sense. I’m excited to see what that twist means for Emma in the next book!
Gretchen seemed to fight the most against being a “proper lady,” more so than Emma and Penelope, and I really liked that about her. When I read historical fiction like this, I always hope for a character like Gretchen who rebels like that, who doesn’t want the fancy balls or the seasons in London. She doesn’t want to be married off to the first guy who comes along. It gave her spunk and attitude. Plus, she (like Emma) had a really cool power. In addition to rebelling against society, Gretchen was also the most reluctant when it came to being a witch – which caused me to compare her to Piper from Charmed a lot!
Penelope, like her cousins, had a really cool power; however, of the three, she was my least favorite. There was nothing wrong with her, but she didn’t really stand out and I really can’t remember anything specific or interesting about her.
Now let’s talk about the main love interest… Cormac. Cormac was definitely a tough character to figure out. I kind of got annoyed after awhile with his back-and-forth allegiances. I didn’t like the fact that I had to stop and wonder, “Can he be trusted?” every other chapter. Very annoying. Plus, I wasn’t fully convinced of his and Emma’s feelings for one another. I can’t really see her with him.. I just didn’t like him and the romance didn’t feel believable or sincere enough.
Virgil was an ass. Daphne was obnoxious, though she had some redeeming qualities in the end. Sophie and Lilybeth were just… Whoa. I can’t even. Olwen reminded me of Luna from Harry Potter and I really liked her! I was also very intrigued by the mothers – Theodora, Bethany and Cora Lovegrove. I would have loved to see more of them in this, though we did see a LOT of Theodora’s background and I think those were some of my favorite parts!
The last 20% of the book was insane! A lot of things were revealed and a lot of things finally made sense! I was completely shocked when they finally did the big “reveal” – I didn’t see that coming!
Overall, I did really enjoy this book. The plot was really interesting and right up my alley. The characters were all really awesome – even the ones I wasn’t as crazy about. But the fact that the writing was so confusing really threw me off. This book would have been a solid 4-stars if it had not been for that. I just got so tired of constantly going back and re-reading big chunks of the story. I think if I were to re-read it at some point, it would likely be less confusing the second-time around, just as it was when I re-read Hearts at Stake. And less confusing would equal more enjoyable.
I would say, if you’ve read other books by Alyxandra Harvey, you’ll definitely enjoy A Breath of Frost! And if you haven’t read any of her other books yet, I’d recommend reading one of her others first – just so you can get used to her writing style.