A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

Title: A Breath of Frost (The Lovegrove Legacy #1)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Pub. Date: January 7, 2014
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (thank you, Bloomsbury!!)
Summary: 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?
Genre: YA, Paranormal

Alyxandra Harvey is a completely new-to-me author. I haven’t read her Drake Chronicles series, Haunting Violet, or any of her other works, but the moment I came across A Breath of Frost I was instantly intrigued. Regency London, witchcraft, opened gates to the underworld – it all left me dancing in delight and I couldn’t request it fast enough.

Three cousins – Emma, Penelope, and Gretchen – are in the midst of their first Season. As debutantes, they’re expected to attend ball after ball in the hopes of obtaining a husband. Unfortunately for their parents, these girls have other ideas.

Emma’s mother descended into madness shortly after Emma was born. Since then, Emma has carried around a small perfume bottle that had belonged to her mother. When a party-goer bumps into Emma and the bottle smashes to pieces, all hell breaks loose. Literally. Suddenly there are dead girls and whispers of magic – things Society would never discuss in public – and somehow Emma discovers herself in the middle of it all.

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed A Breath of Frost. This was definitely an instance where I was at the right place at the right time, the-star-were-aligned sort of moment. A Breath of Frost was exactly what I hadn’t realized I wanted to read and it was fantastic. The sheer size (clocking in at just shy of 500 pages) is definitely going to put off some readers, but for all its heftiness, this was a fairly light read. Oh sure, there are multiple murders and hellhounds, but it kept me entertained the entire time – and that’s certainly not something that can be said for every 500-page book I’ve come across.

Although Emma is very much the main character, Penelope and Gretchen have their chance to shine and from the looks of things, the sequel focuses on Gretchen. I’m a big fan of series where each book follows a different character, so this only adds to my eagerness for more! The secondary characters: Cormac, Daphne, Moira, were all given their fair share of screen time so-to-speak and felt wholly unique. I will admit that for the first few chapters I was under the impression that Moira’s scenes were some sort of flashback or time skip, but that turned out to not be the case once she started interacting with Emma – whoops!

For such a long book, I’m really at a loss of things to say. A Breath of Frost contained fluff when I wasn’t looking for something heavy, but also held enough substance to keep me entertained and invested. The romance, while not a love-triangle, was of the I-hate-you-but-I-love-you variety that I’m not overly fond of. While he was never physically abusive, Cormac was definitely cruel to Emma – yet couldn’t stop thinking about her during his own chapters.

There were multiple plots I easily called (Ewan, the identity of the murderer, etc) and Emma’s newly-sprouted antlers were more amusing than anything, but I thoroughly enjoyed A Breath of Frost and am looking forward to Whisper the Dead (coming later this year!). If you like your paranormal with a side of fluff and enjoy a full cast of characters (seriously, there are a LOT with multiple perspectives to boot), pick up a copy of this book!

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