Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Becky's View: A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey
♦publisher: Walker Children's
♦release date: January 7th, 2014
♦hardcover, 496 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: The Lovegrove Legacy, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
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?

Review: A Breath of Frost is a fun addition to the YA world of witchy stories.  Alyxandra Harvey has a great way with characters, making the reader not fall instantly in love with them, but letting her characters earn their own fans (or enemies, as the case may be!) as the story unfolds.  I did find the beginning to be a bit rocky, with so much thrown at you at once, different things happening without much explanation, many different characters being introduced right away---it was a bit hard to follow and it was a while before I really felt gripped into the story. It did eventually do just that and I found a compelling world of witches and magic and legacy.

The story had many great elements. Three cousins with an endearingly close relationship discover they are witches---and not just any witches, they are Lovegroves, a witching family with a notorious reputation.  They find themselves thrown into a finishing school for witches and also in the thick of several mysterious murders. All three are so distinct in their personalities, but each respects the other so much. The story is mostly told from Emma's perspective as she finds her way in this strange new world of magic. She faces off against the school snob and the boy who kissed her and didn't come calling after. Most importantly, she tries to find out what happened to her mother and how it all ties in to the recent ghostly occurances.  Oh, and she gets horns. That would no doubt put a damper on any girl's ability to fit in to the proper manners of the 1800s.  But she definitely proves herself a fighter in the face of all that.

At first, I was not a fan of the romance between Emma and Cormac because he just seemed too cold at first, almost to the point of being mean. But he grew on me and slowly proved himself to be trustworthy and honorable and even charming at times.  Their sparring at the beginning makes for a fun gradual build-up toward the flirtations and romance.  And there is so much else going on in this story, the romance is good, but it's really just one small side plot. 

There are some definite creepy moments, not suprising in a story full of ghosts and ghouls, fairies and shapeshifters, and the merciless Greymalkin sisters. The writing, while sometimes a bit choppy, was atmospheric and descriptive, and the flow of the story was full of twists.  While the ending didn't really take me by surprise, I didn't think it was completely predictable either.  I will say that the reveal of the traitor in the end felt like kind of a "typical" choice.  Still, I really enjoyed this story full of mystery, a huge cast of great characters and a wonderfully crafted magical world. 
Find Alyxandra Harvey online:  Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase A Breath of Frost:  Amazon  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound


  1. This is one of those stories for patient readers. I grew to like the story. It didn't work for me in the beginning. I liked it more the deeper along I got into the story. This was my first experience reading a book written by Harvey.

    1. So it sounds like we both had the same issue with the beginning! LOL Glad you grew to like it, too...it really did turn out to be a great story.

  2. I haven't read a book with magical elements nor a YA novel for some time - this sounds like a great book to break that spell (no pun intended). The only thing that puts me off a little is that it is part of a series, I'm more of a standalone kind of girl. I'll see about this one... Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Jade | Bits & Bobs