Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Released: 7th January 2013
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
1814 London sees Emma, Gretchen and Penelope discover that magic runs in the family and that the cousins are, in fact, witches. This discovery, unfortunately, comes with something of a damper, as it seems they unwittingly opened up portals to the underworld. Among the foul and dangerous things coming through these portals are the spirits of the Greymalkin Sisters, dark witches who are now murdering young witches in a quest for more power. Somehow, it is Emma who stumbles upon each corpse. The cousins need to locate and seal the gates as quickly as possible, but someone is working against them to help the Sisters. It is only a matter of time before any hope or possibility of winning this fight becomes impossible.
This was a fairly solid read, although I admit this wasn't entirely what I'd hoped. Having enjoyed Harvey's Drake Chronicles I came with certain expectations. These were met in part and, with a little more work, it could have been even better. The bones were definitely there, and very promising. What seemed to be missing, however, were key points of explanation, parts of conversation; transitions were disjointed and causal points unclear. This improved over the course of the book, with the second half being stronger than the opening, and this is where I started to get more involved in events. The plot, such as it was, was not an overly complex one, but Harvey made it reasonably compelling nevertheless. I quite liked the portrayal of the Graymalkin Sisters, each suitably villainous and distinct in their own way. The worldbuilding in general, although in need of some improvement, was decent enough.
I'm not sure how attached I became to the characters. Certainly I liked our three leads, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. Amusing and feisty, they kept me entertained - Emma in particular, who took the forefront in this instalment. But it's hard to detect any deeper sentiment. Possibly part of the problem was the frequent jump between perspectives, which was split not only between the cousins but others as well. Even beyond that, though, I think there was something elusive that just prevented me from fully connecting. Still, there's sufficient time left for me to feel differently. What was good, beyond a doubt, was to see a good connection between these three girls. As family, as friends, they had a strong relationship. Romance was present in the book, but it was this relationship that took the focus more, I think, which was a nice change.
While not as promising as I might have hoped, A Breath of Frost was still a decent start to a new series by a well-established author. I have hopes that there will be improvements as the series goes on and, if so, this should turn out to be something truly enjoyable.