Review: Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey

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.

Review: Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra HarveyWhisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey
Series: The Lovegrove Legacy #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on October 7, 2014
Pages: 408
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

Cousins Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope are all dealing with what it means to be a Lovegrove. For Gretchen, it means she often feels like her head is going to explode. As a Whisperer, Gretchen constantly hears the whispers of other witches' spells. And while this does help her to know when one of her own spells is going wrong, the incessant buzzing and pain the whispers cause makes it difficult to use her gift.

But when something evil begins to menace Mayfair, Gretchen must find a way to master her power. Along with her cousins, a madcap named Moira, and the icy yet irresistible Tobias Lawless, Gretchen faces deadly threats and unimaginable loss in the hopes of preventing the terrible Greymalkin Sisters from rising again.

The second book in The Lovegrove Legacy trilogy, Whisper the Dead will leave readers spellbound.

Whisper the Dead was such a fun read and a pleasant surprise. For the most part, I love Alyxandra Harvey’s books, but after getting so frustrated with A Breath of Frost (book one in the trilogy), I was a little worried about reading Whisper the Dead. For those who haven’t read my review for that, my main frustration was the confusing style of writing I’ve often noticed in Harvey’s books. Though there were definitely a handful of confusing moments in Whisper the Dead, it wasn’t nearly as bad as A Breath of Frost. And right off the bat, that made Whisper the Dead that much more enjoyable. It had an intriguing plot, awesome characters and a crazy cliffhanger that left my jaw on the floor.

While these books are about three cousins, the focus was definitely on Emma in A Breath of Frost. I was convinced she was my favorite character, though I liked Gretchen a lot. And I really didn’t form an opinion – one way or the other – about Penelope because we saw very little of her on her own and, therefore, couldn’t really get a sense of her personality. However, Whisper the Dead focused more on Gretchen and she’s officially my favorite of the three now – though we saw a lot more of Penelope as well, so this could change by the time I read the third book!

Emma was still an awesome character. I love her powers. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of weather witches and how amazing their powers are when used for good, but how terrifying and destructive they could be when used for evil. I think Emma had some of the best revelations in the book and the cliffhanger with her and Cormac was insane. I’m very interested in seeing what that ending means for them in book three!

Speaking of Cormac.. I wasn’t crazy about Cormac in A Breath of Frost. He went back-and-forth with his allegiances so many times, I constantly had to ask myself, “Can he be trusted?” It got so annoying, I gave up trying to like him. But in Whisper the Dead, that didn’t happen. We firmly and officially know whether or not we can trust him. Also, I didn’t find him and Emma to be a believable couple in A Breath of Frost. But as of Whisper the Dead, I officially adore him and Emma. They were adorable together and strong together. They definitely bring out the best in each other.

Gretchen was everything I love in a female character from the 1800s. I love reading books from this time period. I love the balls and fancy gowns and horse-drawn carriages and the idea of “society.” But as much as I love that, I also love seeing a female character that rebels against that, who doesn’t want to attend the fancy balls or be married off to some random guy she doesn’t know or love. And Gretchen was that character and more. She rebelled against every aspect of being a proper lady. She has an awesome power. She also had the most tragic plot twist in the entire book. My heart broke for her.

I wasn’t crazy about Tobias at first. It took a good portion of the story before he grew on me. I didn’t necessarily dislike him in the beginning, but I knew he was working for the Order and I didn’t trust him. Something I did like, though, was the slow build-up to him and Gretchen liking and trusting each other. Also, Tobias had an interesting secret that I’m eager to see more of in book three.

Like I said, I didn’t like nor dislike Penelope in A Breath of Frost. We just didn’t see much of her, so I really had no opinion. But, despite Whisper the Dead focusing mainly on Gretchen, we saw a lot more of Penelope, as well, and learned more about her personality. Her power confuses me the most, so I’m hoping we learn more about how it works in the third book.

Like with Tobias, I couldn’t really remember who Cedric was at first. Later on in the story, it’s explained and I remembered exactly who he was and how I felt about him. I really love the idea of Penelope and Cedric together, though I don’t know if it will happen, which makes me sad. And Lord Beauregard certainly threw a wrench in things, too. Although, I can’t say much more on that.. But poor Penelope was certainly put into some unfortunate situations in Whisper the Dead. And her cliffhanger was almost as insane as Emma’s and Cormac’s.

There are certain characters I can’t discuss in detail for fear of spoilers, but they deserve an honorable mention and, in some cases, tears and feels: Godric, Moira, Lady Theodora, Ewan and .. I’m sure I forgot one or two people, but those are the main ones!

I’ve mentioned it briefly throughout my review, but the ending of this book was insane! The revelations, the plot twists and the epic cliffhanger just broke my feels completely. I think the only issue I had with this book was it was really long, which I don’t mind, but it did drag a bit in a few sections. And it wasn’t nearly as confusing as A Breath of Frost, but there were still a couple moments were I was a little bit lost and had to do some re-reading.

Overall, I really enjoyed Whisper the Dead. It was so much better than A Breath of Frost, which is a hard thing to achieve with a second book in a trilogy. It didn’t really suffer from Second Book Syndrome, though it had its moments. I never felt like anything in Whisper the Dead was just filler, meant to move the story along from point A to point B – The things that happened in Whisper the Dead were important to the overall plot of the book, as well as the complete trilogy plot. It set things up nicely for book three and I’m really, really excited to read it! I would definitely recommend this book!


Review: A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

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.

Review: A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra HarveyA Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey
Series: The Lovegrove Legacy #1
Published by Walker Childrens on January 7, 2014
Pages: 496
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

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.