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Monday, September 19, 2011

Boarding School Ghost Story Not Quite As Chilling As Creepy-Cool Cover Suggests

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The minute Leena Thomas spies Frost House crouching at the edge of Barcroft Academy's campus, she knows she has to live there. Nestled in a grove of trees, the cozy old Victorian - so much more inviting than the rest of the boarding school's dormitories - just feels like the perfect place for Leena and her friends to spend their senior year. It's a boy's dorm, but Leena's pretty sure she can use her connections to get that changed. Her plan comes together so perfectly, it's like the whole thing was meant to be.

Except for Celeste Lazar. She was never part of Leena's plan. And yet, the freaky, art-obsessed senior is now rooming with Leena thanks to the bulky cast on Celeste's broken leg and Frost House's easier access to campus. Leena's friends can't stop complaining about an outsider intruding on their perfect senior year. She's not thrilled about it either, but Leena's willing to put forth an effort. It's only for a semester. She can handle anything for a semester.

Or so she thinks until things in their shared bedroom start to get ... strange. Celeste's artwork seems to jump off the wall despite being securely fastened, Celeste's senior project gets ruined in some mysterious way, and Celeste keeps waking up with bruises all over her body. She blames the other girls, even a malevolent "presence" she insists lurks in the house. Leena's reluctant to believe her frantic new roomie, especially considering mental illness runs in Celeste's family. Besides, Leena feels completely welcome in the house and in their room. In fact, she feels more than welcome, she feels connected, almost needed by the place. But as Leena grows closer to Celeste's gorgeous older brother David, she's drawn deeper into Celeste's problems and further away from the other girls in Frost House. As Leena fights to keep her friends, help Celeste, and hold onto David, she feels her world come crashing down. Frost House becomes her sanctuary - a sanctuary that wants to keep her safe. Forever.

Frost, a debut novel by Marianna Baer, looks like a creepy little ghost tale (I mean, just look at that cover!). And it is. Kinda. Although, really, it's more psychological thriller than horror story. The former, though, never really got intense enough for me and the latter seemed too cliche. That, along with flat characters and Baer's tendency toward wordiness irritated me - not enough to keep me from finishomg the book, but enough that I'm not gushing over Frost. For a first novel, it's not bad, it's just not as good as I hoped it would be. Too bad because that creepy-coll cover still gives me chills.

(Readalikes: Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong languge, mild sexual content, intense situations and depictions of underrage drinking and prescription drug abuse.

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Frost from the generous folks at Harper Teen. Thank you!

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, I agree with you. This one should have been edited down a bit. I ended up skimming most of the second half of the book, so maybe I missed something crucial, but I liked how the ending itself was ambiguous--was there really a Big Bad at Frost House? Was there a more mundane explanation for everything? Or was it all the result of one girl's mental breakdown?

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's not often a book doesn't live up to the cover. Usually it's the other way around.

    ReplyDelete

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Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee

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