This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Desire in Frost, hosted by YA Bound Book Tours. Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, Fire in Frost. You can read my review of this novel [here].
Desire in Frost was written by Alicia Rades and first published in 2016. It is the second part of the Crystal Frost series and follows the continuing adventures of the title character as she learns to control her psychic gift. The novel follows on directly from Fire in Frost (2015) and so the series really needs to be read in sequence to be fully appreciated.
Although Crystal was initially optimistic that she could use her powers to find Hope, she’s starting to be doubt herself. Nights have passed and she’s haunted by the same dream, witnessing the little girl’s abduction but unable to see the face of the kidnapper. Although she’s confident that the girl is alive, the trail is growing ever colder and soon even the police begin to give up on finding Hope alive.
Yet it’s Thanksgiving and her Mum and Teddy have arranged a trip to Florida to visit Teddy’s parents. Crystal hopes that the break will be just the thing to help her focus and gain a greater understanding of her abilities. Unfortunately, Teddy also invites along his nephew Robin – a secretive teen who never has a kind word to say to anyone – and so the holiday soon proves to be less peaceful than Crystal hoped.
However, not all seems to be lost. The further south they drive; the stronger Crystal’s visions become. Slowly, the pieces begin to fall into place and Crystal begins to understand exactly why Hope was taken. With Teddy still uncertain about her gifts, Crystal turns to Robin to help her rescue the little girl. Yet as she begins to develop feelings for her soon-to-be cousin, things become even more complicated. Will she be able to find love and rescue Hope while still keeping her psychic powers a secret?
Desire in Frost is a strong sequel to one of my favourite independent novels of 2015. From only a few chapters in, it was clear that it had also fixed some of Fire in Frost’s issues. The sequel is far shorted and begins quickly, not needing any time to really set the scene. Its fast paced plot picks up almost exactly where the last one left off, rejoining Crystal as she tries to use her gifts in psychometry to locate a kidnapped child.
Although the novel has strong supernatural elements, it is a mystery story to the core. The kidnapping grows gradually more complex as Crystal’s visions and ghostly visitations off her more information, raising questions and then resolving them one at a time. It’s clear that Rades is talented when it comes to plotting. The mystery is well written and makes perfect sense when you look back over it, not relying on any leaps of logic and ensuring that every clue is clearly related to the reader. While I did feel that the culprit and motivation were a little easy to guess (I had it by the half way mark), it’s still exciting and will certainly keep the interest of a young reader.
Unlike the first novel, which touches on some serious themes like death and child abuse, Desire in Frost is a light and fairly cheerful read. There is really nothing to this novel that would make me hesitate before giving it to a younger teen. In all honesty, I can say that it’s one of the most positive young adult novels that I’ve read of late. It’s the heart-warming story about a teenage girl discovering herself, finding love and ultimately saving the day. Really, who couldn’t fall in love with a story like that? I know that gritty, realistic fantasy novels are all the rage at the moment but sometimes it’s just nice to read something where everything goes well for the protagonist.
The primary draw of the story is still Crystal herself. She’s a really strong and relatable female lead and makes a fantastic role model for younger readers. Although her powers are impressive, she never feels as though she’s too strong. The need for her to interpret the cryptic clues that she receives from ghosts and the fact that she is occasionally blind to the bigger picture that her visions are trying to show her means that her psychic abilities aren’t always immediately useful.
She’s also developed enough to feel like a real teenage girl. While she’s capable and very determined to do the right thing, I like how her self-doubt is ever present. After an early mistake, she’s left worried that she can’t trust what she sees. The pressure of finding Hope before it’s too late weighs heavily on her and over the course of the novel she’s forced to persevere and trust her instincts, even when no one else seems to believe her.
When it comes to background characters, I also felt that this novel did a little better than its prequel. I criticised Fire in Frost for introducing too many characters in its early chapters, causing me to struggle to remember who was who. This time around, many of the characters from Fire in Frost take a backseat. There’s not really any input from the girls in her school or her Mum’s friends. Even Derek and Emma, Crystal’s best friends, don’t really have much to do in this story as they’re mainly engaged in their own subplot off-page. The focus of this story is narrowed to Crystal’s Mum, Teddy and Robin.
Although the romance is a little fast, I really did like Robin as a counterpart for Crystal. While I freely admit that I found the early exposition to be a bit unnecessary (we didn’t really need Crystal to keep reminding us how mean Robin was when it was obvious to anyone with eyes that he was going to become the love interest), Robin did receive some excellent development and it made him a very believable romantic lead. He was a very sweet character and his reservations were pretty understandable when his secret was revealed. Although he’s sarcastic and a bit of a tease, he made a wonderful contrast to the caring and optimistic Crystal and I felt that his response to his eventual discovery of Crystal’s gifts was perfect. I can’t wait to see how their relationship develops over future instalments.
Well, due to the length of this story I don’t really have much more to say. I really enjoyed Fire in Frost but felt that this novel was a step better again. It’s clear that Rades is improving as a writer and she’s created a wonderfully relatable protagonist in Crystal. Rades is certainly an author to watch and I can’t wait to review the next instalment of this series.
Desire in Frost can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk