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I Belong

Review: Frost by Marianna Baer

Title: Frost

Author: Marianna Baer

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 13, 2011

Format: Hardcover, 396 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061799491 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13:  978-0061799495 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Emmy


Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate—eccentric Celeste Lazar.

As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House: frames falling off walls, doors locking themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And although Leena strives to be the peacekeeper, soon the eerie happenings in the dorm, an intense romance between Leena and Celeste’s brother, David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind…or in Frost House itself?

From debut author Marianna Baer, Frost is a stunning and surprising tale of suspense that will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Quick & Dirty: This book has a lot of the aspects of a psychological thriller, but it failed to deliver on a lot of counts.

Opening Sentence: Before I lived there, before any of this happened, I imagined Frost House as a sanctuary.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

One day Leena ends up in the backyard of Frost House and everything about it pulls her in.  The shabby chic house used to be a dorm for boys, but Leena is something of a goody-two-shoes and a good friend of the Dean of Students.  Shamelessly pulling some strings, for their senior year Leena and her three best friends will be living there.  Except Green Beret Celeste breaks her leg the summer before school and ruins their perfect plans.  Since there’s no way for her to live in her third floor dorm, the Dean moves her in with the ever-biddable Leena, little knowing how poorly things could go.

Leena reads too-good-to-be-true in many ways, she’s incredibly smart, has great social skills, is best friends with Deans and teachers, and runs peer counseling.  Along side her need to make everyone around her happy, there were times when her narration grated on me.  Especially when she was thinking about Celeste and David’s situation.  Talk about sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.  And with the arrival of Celeste and her whirlwind drama, Leena basically ends up ignoring her two best friends upstairs. Abandoning them for the enemy, if you will.

Celeste is not only a drama queen–even without all the crazy stuff going on–but acts bipolar throughout the book.  One moment she’s ready to be Leena’s best friend, then she’s says something deliberately cruel. It’s hard to tell if Celeste is blowing everything out of proportion, or if the roommates is really out to get her. But Celeste knows something’s wrong with the house.  Even with blinds, she feels as if someone’s watching her.

And then there’s David, the love interest.  He got kicked out of Pembroke for cheating, took a year off of school to take care of some family issues, and is now back for his senior year. He’s super overprotective of Celeste to the point of it being creepy, even though I’m pretty sure what Baer was going for was just a caring older brother. Some of it has to do with Celeste having him wrapped around her finger, but a lot of it is his inability to leave his sister alone.  He ends up using Leena as a go-between a lot, getting her to tell him what Celeste is up to.  Not exactly the greatest basis for a relationship.

Then there’s the ghost story Whip tells the girls about the house, stirring up Celeste’s imaginings and bringing even more drama to the table.  Did a woman really die here after losing her child? Was the house haunted? Except Leena’s never felt more at home than she has at Frost House. While all these events are pushing Celeste away, everything inside is inviting Leena to stay forever.

This book has a great style and strong writing voice, but there was no tension for me.  I couldn’t get into the story because I couldn’t bring myself to connect to characters I didn’t believe in.  It’s not your typical haunted house book.  There are a lot of questions you ask yourself throughout the book–the biggest of which is which characters can you trust? I can see some aspects of a great thriller here, but I never really felt like anything was at stake.  And, unfortunately, the ending was completely unsatisfying for me. Compared to everything the characters go through leading up to it, the end came as a total letdown.

Notable Scene:

“What happened?” I asked.

“I…I was sitting here while the water was running,” she said. “And I guess…I guess I bumped against the faucet. I don’t remember.  It happened so quickly, and then it hurt so much.”

“That’s from the faucet?” I said. “The water must have been so hot.”

She shook her head. “I was trying to cool the bath down.  Only the cold water was on.”

“You must have turned the wrong handle.”

“I didn’t.” Then she said it again, louder. “I didn’t. I know which handle I turne. This wasn’t my fault.”

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Frost.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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