Jennifer Estep may be best known for her bestselling Elemental Assassin series but her relatively new bestselling Mythos Academy series is also a lot of fun! Dark Frost is the latest novel in the Mythos Academy series. Although it’s Book #3, it works just fine as a stand-alone novel. If you think you might like a paranormal fantasy with a kick-butt heroine, mystery, mythology, and romance, then read on.
Seventeen-year-old Gwen Frost attends Mythos Academy in Cypress Mountain, NC, near Asheville, a special school for teens gifted with paranormal abilities. She’s inherited her mother’s and grandmother’s Gypsy gift for psychometry, which means she knows an object’s history just by touching it. That includes who’s touched it and their emotions when they did. It’s one of those gifts that can have both good and bad implications because sometimes she’d rather not read a person’s emotions. Mostly she uses it to help other students find things they’ve lost, which is a great way to earn extra money. That money comes in handy because she doesn’t have wealthy parents like a lot of the kids at the academy.
The kids who attend Mythos Academy are the descendents of ancient warriors. They are taught not just normal subjects but also how to battle and hopefully prevail against the Reapers of Chaos. The Reapers are determined to release Loki from his prison so they can sow chaos throughout the world, with the end result that Loki would rule and humanity would become enslaved. Not a pretty thought.
Like most students everywhere, Gwen and most of her fellow second-year classmates left their winter-holiday assignment until the very last minute. Hey, holidays are meant for having fun; not homework, right? So they’ve all gone to the Crius Coliseum museum to learn what they can about the mythological weapons on display in a special exhibit on loan from Mythos Academy. Walking into the museum is like walking back into ancient times and the students are fascinated.
“’This is cool,’ Daphne said. She pointed to a curved bow inside a glass case…A matching onyx quiver sat next to the bow, although only a single golden arrow lay inside the slender tube. Daphne leaned down and read the bronze plaque mounted on the pedestal below the weapon. ‘This says that the bow once belonged to Sigyn, the Norse goddess of devotion, and that every time you pull the arrow out of the quiver, another one appears to take its place. Okay, now that is wicked cool.’”
Unfortunately, the Reapers are apparently aware of the genetic tendency all teens have to perfect procrastination. When they also show up at the museum, they catch the students unprepared to fight and wholesale slaughter is the result. Gwen and her friends are lucky to be in a room filled with weapons when all hell broke loose, which is the only reason they survive.
“I’d faced down two Reapers myself, but I’d never seen anything like this. I was so shocked by the scene in front of me that I felt stuck in place, just like my friends. I knew we should be doing something, anything, to try to help the other students, but I didn’t know what it could be…Some of the Mythos students tried to fight back, using their fists or whatever they could get their hands on. But it didn’t work, and one by one, the Reapers swarmed over the kids.”
Gwen knows what the Reapers are after, and feels like the attack is her fault. The Reapers have been searching for the Helheim dagger her mom hid, and must have thought it might be part of the exhibit. Because it’s the last key the Reapers need to release Loki from his prison, she has to find it before they do. Using an important clue she finds in the museum wreckage, she’s got to double her efforts to find it as quickly as possible.
“The Reapers wanted the Helheim dagger, and they didn’t care what they had to do or whom they had to kill to find it. Which meant that everyone at Mythos Academy was in serious, serious danger.”
It’s also a little too convenient that the Reapers knew exactly when to visit the museum to inflict the most damage to Mythos Academy. That must mean there’s an infiltrator on campus, someone who knew when so many students would be at the museum. It doesn’t seem possible given the stringent security measures in place but no other explanation makes sense. Gwen doesn’t want to believe anyone she knows could be a Reaper but she’s determined to find the spy among them.
Okay, so school is just starting up again after winter break and she’s already up to her neck in pressure. Find the dagger to prevent the world dissolving into chaos and find the traitor among her classmates. No problem, right?
Gwen, her grandmother (the Gypsy fortuneteller), and her friends are all very well-drawn characters with lots of depth. That doesn’t surprise me, given Jennifer Estep’s characterizations in her other series. What did surprise me was that I bonded with these characters so quickly, even though I hadn’t read the first two novels in the Mythos Academy series.
Jennifer Estep draws a lot from Greek and Norse mythology, as well as famous ancient warrior legends, in the Mythos Academy series. Her research is such that the mythological parts of the novels feel accurate while not detracting from the contemporary action. No lectures or lengthy exposition here, thank goodness. Dark Frost is a gritty urban fantasy with action from beginning to end, making for a very fun, jam-packed roller coaster ride. These teens can kick some serious butt, and so can Grandmother Frost for that matter.
If you’re a Jennifer Estep fan, you’ll be pleased to find that the Mythos Academy series is every bit as good as the Elemental Assassin series. If you’ve never tried a Jennifer Estep novel, and you like gritty urban fantasy, then you deserve to treat yourself!
To read our Elemental Assassin series review of Tangled Threads (Book #4), click here.
Can’t wait to read it?
Dark Frost will be published on May 29, 2012; however, you can pre-order it from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
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