Nyx Book Reviews

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Rant Review: First Frost by Jennifer Estep

First Frost by Jennifer Estep
(Mythos Academy #0.5)

2 out of 5 stars
Published by Kensington

I’m doing this review a little differently – this is a rant I wrote on Goodreads some time ago. Don’t take this too seriously, it’s purely for entertaining purposes. No offence meant towards the author or her editor.

My dear god, I should have known this would end up as a rant. Even though First Frost is barely an hour’s read, it left me sputtering and muttering for three times as long. My fingers are sore of making annotations on my Kindle. Behold, my opinion of this little piece of work.

Ms Estep is writing in dangerous territory. Writing about a school for special kids with magical powers is tricky business; it automatically reminds of other successful YA-series that follow this formula. Series like Harry Potter, House of Night, Vampire Academy, Fallen… Just to name a few. Because of this, an author’s work, how original it might be, just looks like a fake. Like the author thought, hey, this is popular, let’s write something like that!

I’m quite sure Ms Estep didn’t think like that when she came up with the Mythos Academy. It’s quite evident that she put some thought in it; the school inhabits all different kinds of mythological creatures. Even though myths (yes, that is my newly invented abbreviation of mythological creatures) seem to be the new angels (like angels were the new vampires… etcetera), it’s still a fairly new sub-genre, so definitely nothing cliché there.

Now let’s talk about what made my face go “No you didn’t!”. For educational purposes I will add some quotes from the book so you can see what I’m talking about.

We start our little story with our heroine in the locker room at school. We immediately get introduced to her special powers.

I was a Gypsy with psychometry magic. A fancy way of saying that I saw images in my head and got flashes of other people’s memories and feelings off almost everything that I touched.

Well, that sounds pretty cool right? It definitely has a lot of mystery potential, where Gwen uncovers secrets using her powers. The Gypsy part makes me frown a bit. But we’re still on the second page, I guess that we will get more info about that later.

We go through a bit of explanation of her powers, and I am still in happy YA land. Celine is content.

Yeah, I was just that kind of loser, a book-smart Gypsy girl who sucked at pretty much every sport you could think of and probably a couple that hadn’t even been invented yet.

Huh. There is the Gypsy thing again. Still have no idea what all that’s about, but I guess we’ll see. I’m a bit annoyed though that we have another awkward and clumsy heroine here. Why can’t they just be mediocre at sports? Do they always have to be get a ball in their face? Even though I personally am as clumsy as every awkward book geek, I don’t find it an endearing trait in a main character. Let us continue.

Something bad and freaky happens. It actually had quite a shock-factor, which I enjoyed. Gwen’s reaction to said bad thing:

And that’s when I started screaming.

I screamed and screamed and screamed.

Okay that is pretty awful. I’m sorry, but I’m not one for repeating the same word over and over again. I’m a fan of synonyms. Or descriptions. I find this quite lame.

A few pages later we meet Gwen’s mother.

Concern filled my mom’s eyes. She was a Gypsy just like me, which meant that she had a gift like me.

Now this awkward. The logical conclusion of this sentence is that a person that is a Gypsy, must have a gift. I still don’t get the definition of Gypsy here. Call me racist, but I always thought Gypsies were those people that live in trailers and travel around the world with their families. So isn’t it quite obvious that Gwen’s mother would be a Gypsy if Gwen herself was one? Seriously, at this point I feel like I’m missing out on some secret pact that Gypsy from now on is a code name for a supernatural person, like witch.

A little bit bewildered, I continue reading. Enter grandma. Guess what, she’s a Gypsy.

…the same violet color as her eyes-as all our eyes were.

Now that is freaky. Grandmother, mother & daughter all have violet (?) eyes. First, I have never seen a person with eyes that could be considered violet, but even if we completely disregard the fact of people with purple eyecolor, I think it’s disconcerting that three generations have EXACTLY the same eye colour. But oh well, this is urban-fantasy, so I’ll go with it. For now.

There is some family talk, some “oh my god, my mother is so weird, she always talks about Greek gods and goddesses!”. Yeah, yeah, we get that. Pretty standard stuff. Unless your mother talks about killer unicorns, I’m not that interested. We talk about volcanoes and quantum mechanics at dinner. Get over yourself please.

Now we arrive at the most offensive sentence of the whole story. (If you have arrived at this point in my review rant you probably don’t care about the spoilers any more).

I didn’t know then that this would be the last time I ever talked to her.

Oh COME ON! Seriously, this is not cool. You do not do something like this. This completely ruins the surprise in a horrible way. Really, I can’t even begin to tell you how I feel about dropping such an important part of the story just seconds after an uneventful phone call. No dramatical build-up whatsoever. BOOM, hey, my mother will disappear/die! Ugh.

Let’s examine dear Gwen’s reaction when she finds out the bad news that she will never speak her mother again.

I had started screaming again.


Insert some self guilt.

And cried and cried and cried some more.

Are you kidding me? There is really nothing more to say than “verb and verb and verb some more”?! Use it once, and I will be forgiving. Use it twice in a twenty page story and I will begin to doubt if you even put some effort into this. And if this story has ever seen an editor. Or a proof reader.

Now, we come to the Harry Potter-style part. A mysterious Professor arrives at the house.

She was short, with a body that looked stocky and strong inside her black pantsuit and white shirt. Her black hair was pulled back into a bun, and her eyes were a soft green behind her silver glasses.

Right. Give her robes and grey hair, and who have we gotten here?… That’s right, Professor McGonagall! And there is more, look what she has to say!

“Because Mythos isn’t just any school, Gwen,” Metis said. “It’s for kids like you. Kids with magic.”

You’re a wizard Harry!

Oops, wrong book.

Our ever eloquent heroine has some questions for McGonagall.

“What kinds of kids go there?” I asked. “What kind of magic do they have? Are they Gypsies like me?”

Well, DUH. Every kid with magic is a witch! Or wait, you call that Gypsy. Wait, now I am confused.

McGonagall vaguely answers

“It varies, depending on the student and her background. But the Vikings and Valkyries are very strong, while the Romans and Amazons are very quick.”

Ahhh, that’s how the Roman empire was so successful! They were QUICK! So when they were fighting Asterix and Obelix in France, they would just go like, oh-my-god-we-capture-your-land-so-quickly-it’s-so-quick-you-didn’t-even-see-us-coming! And the Vikings were just like ARRGG, I’m strong. I’m gonna hit you in the head with my big axe, I’m so strong. And Valkyries, that usually are pictured with wings, they’re not quick! Nope, they’re just strong. Like tanks. With wings.

How can you take this seriously.

Now, enter the super cool classes at Mythos.

“Myth-history?” I asked. “What kind of class is that?”

Well dear, supposedly “booksmart” girl, it’s a CLASS in which you learn about MYTHS. It’s a very hard to grasp concept. I wouldn’t understand it either. I looked it up on Wikipedia.

McGonagall thinks it’s still a mystery though.

Metis just smiled. “You’ll see, Gwen. You’ll see.”

I guess she will see.

Almost like… she’d known my mom or something. But that just wasn’t possible. I’d known all of my mom’s friends, and Metis wasn’t one of them.

It’s absolutely IMPOSSIBLE that your mother knows someone you don’t! You know every single person in her life, from the moment she was born up until now! I bet she has like, big photobooks with their pictures to keep track of them. Must be hard work to keep up with all the mail men.

Gonna skip a part here, otherwise this rant will last forever.

Mythos looks spooky, blah blah blah. They have Minotaur statues, big deal.


I don’t make that up. It’s in there.

I hadn’t quite believed Metis when she’d claimed there were other kids out there like me, kids who could do amazing things, but now I was seeing it for myself.

You have frigging magical grandma, and you don’t believe someone else can have some powers too? No comment.

Then there is super awesome guy that fights with swords. And please sit down now because this might be shocking;

He noticed me staring at him and gave me a slow, suggestive wink. Was he… was he flirting with me? He didn’t even know me.

No he DIDN’T! A guy that flirts with the new girl! That HAS NEVER EVER HAPPENED BEFORE!

I’m going to skip to the last line though. There is some more mindless babbling that really isn’t that interesting any more.

One thing was certain-my life was never, ever going to be the same.

I agree. Mine won’t either.

I am Gwen Frost, and I have a Gypsy gift. It’s called psychometry – that’s a fancy way of saying that I see images in my head and get flashes of other people’s memories off almost everything I touch, even guys.

My gift makes me kind of nosy. Okay, okay, maybe a lot nosy–to the point of obsession sometimes. I want to know everything about everyone around me. But even I don’t want to know the secrets my friend Paige is hiding or the terrible loss that will send me to a new school – Mythos Academy, where the teachers aren’t preparing us for the SATs, but to battle Reapers of Chaos. Now I have no friends and no idea how my gift fits in with all these warrior whiz kids. The only thing I do know is that my life is never, ever going to be the same. . .

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Now that is freaky. Grandmother, mother

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