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Book Review: Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

Crimson-FrostTitle: Crimson Frost

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy #4

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Rating: 3/5 stars 

The Overview: I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming. I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself…

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The Review:

Crimson Frost wasn’t my favorite of this series so far but it definitely was a lot better than Dark Frost (Book #3). Even so, I’m not sure it really redeemed the series. Estep does a lot of things fairly well – such as characterization, relationships, reflection, and originality – but as I sit here and evaluate the series as a whole, I’m noticing a lot of areas that might have made the books stronger.

Each book has contained some sort of mystery for the main character to solve – an element I really appreciate as an official “armchair detective.” Dark Frost had some issues in this department as Estep smacked the reader in the face with painfully obviously clues every couple of pages – clues that the main character somehow remained blind to. A good writing tip: if your average reader is smart enough to figure out what’s going on, it’s probably best if your heroine has that ability as well. No one likes screaming at the book for the character to: “Look over there! Are you friggin’ blind?! It’s right in front of your face!” (true story). Anyway, I think I’m trying to say that the author handled it a lot better this time around, which made it entirely more enjoyable.

The drawbacks I’m starting to notice in this series have to do with story. This is the fourth book that has taken place at the Academy, and while it’s a great setting, I’ve been sort of expecting the plot to grow beyond the borders of the school at this point and broaden the conflicts – much like Richelle Mead did in her Vampire Academy series when she took it to Russia. Instead, the author seems contents to keep the character stationary and repeat the same organized attack whenever Gwen’s alone in the library (which, by the way, happens all the time despite many security measures the school supposedly has… It’s a bit of a disconnect).

Frankly, if we are going to continue to spend so much time at the school, I’d like to learn a lot more about it – maybe attend some classes, meet a few teachers, even suffer through a little homework for the sake of learning more about the place. I love books that take place in schools, but the school in this one doesn’t seem to be that important. It’s a shame too, because the initial idea for it is so cool!  Children of Ninjas, Valkyries, Vikings, Spartans, and Amazons all attend this school but I know practically nothing about them even after four books. This is the biggest tragedy to me, because I was looking forward to that otherworldly feel I loved so much in the Hex Hall novels and even in Harry Potter. The author could have easily left out some of the fifty pages or so of recap and reflection to expand on this great concept.

Another plot point that’s been letting me down a bit lately is the magic system – specifically Gwen’s. Of Gypsy descent, she has a what’s known as “touch” magic. Everything she touches that has some sort of strong emotion attached to it sends her all memories of people and events surrounding that object. What was a cool concept has now developed into an inconsistent and rather convenient solutions to the character’s problems. Sometimes the magic works one way and other times it works another – I’m actually convinced the author is changing the way it works to suit whatever works best for the scene… It’s a little less effective.

My final point is probably more of a rant than anything constructive – I normally keep those to a minimum in reviews but I’m feeling a little sassy today – and it revolves around the conundrum of the falsely accused. Sure, having someone accused of a crime they didn’t commit can heighten the conflicts in a story and get the reader even more on the characters side.… but it’s also incredibly frustrating. There always seems to be enough evidence to back up the main characters’ cases, but somehow every rational human being – especially the upholders of the law – manage to have collective aneurysms during the trials and wind up siding with the enemy. The case built up against Gwen in this book was thin and rather pathetic. Honestly, the only reason it worked is because the author wanted it to. This might just be a personal thing, but I would avoid putting anything that’s truly frustrating into a story – especially if you’re writing for a genre that’s meant to be light and fun. It just seems counterproductive.

Well, as you can tell I got a little more fired up than I usually do. It really is not an awful series, and I’ve enjoyed it up to this point. I just hate that it’s not as good as it could be when I can see specific reasons why. At this point, I would still give the series a 3/5 stars as a whole.

Overall, I’m not nearly as excited about Mythos Academy as I was when I first picked it up, but it’s still one that I think House of Night fans would really enjoy – especially if they also liked the Percy Jackson series (it’s kind of a neat hybrid of the two). I’m hoping the next book (Midnight Frost out July 30th) continues this one’s upward trend, as it really was a lot more enjoyable than the third book.

Other books you might like:

 Hex Hall Review   •   The Selection Review

by Niki Hawkes

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