Frozen Beauty features two sister’s perspectives— one before and the other after– their older sister is found dead. In the “before,” we see one sister coping with her sisters’ and friends’ secrets and first love. In the “after,” we see one sister determined to find her sister’s killer.
Thank you for Fantastic Flying Book Club for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour! Check out my review, a fan-made playlist, and some of my favorite quotes for Frozen Beauty.
Title: Frozen Beauty
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Genre: YA Thriller
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
I received an eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Everyone in Devil’s Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters—but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out….
No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.
But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.
Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.
Content warning: death
Frozen Beauty follows the Malloy sisters– Kit, Tessa, and Lilly– before and after Kit’s death in a dual perspective.
Despite not having Kit’s perspective, we actually do get to know her quite well. We piece a lot together from what her sisters think about her, dialogue, and Kit’s poems. I really loved that Frozen Beauty incorporated poems “written” by Kit. It gave the author a chance to showcase more of her lyrical writing, while also further developing Kit as the poet she was said to be. I appreciate that this book made me invested in seeing what happened to her, even if I knew she died.
One unique thing that Frozen Beauty did was having the mystery be the main plot, while also sort of keeping it in the background. This was easily accomplished due to the dual perspective. Tessa is focused on finding her sister’s killer. Meanwhile, Lilly’ s chapters focus on the general occurrences of the Fall and early Winter, which place a bigger emphasis on love and secrets.
I was drawn to Frozen Beauty because of the promise of secrets and sisterly bonds– which it definitely delivered. Yet I was surprised by how first love is a huge theme in all three Malloy sister’s stories– although to differing degrees. Yet it is with these threads of first love that we really see secrets being told and these bonds being tested. Due to how tightly-knit the sisters are, their interactions with first love is when we see them being themselves. Not as the molds that others place each of them. While I didn’t love all the characters– mainly Lilly and Kit since they grew on me– I did understand them, their roles, and motivations.
The mystery aspect of the story was incredibly executed. Hillyer plainly lays outs all the suspects, motives, and situations, while still managing to keep you guessing. Seeing Tessa look for clues about her sister’s death, while also grappling with not having realized her sister kept secrets and her sister’s loss, intensified the mystery. You’ll desperately want to know, even though it won’t change the outcome. The dual perspective amped up the mystery since it allows us to see characters’ development, while also providing some key clues (though we don’t know it at first).
This is the first book I have read by Lexa Hillyer but I was blown away by her writing. Hillyer’s prose is poignant and haunting in its simplicity. Similarly, the secrets are simpler than expected, yet more compelling, because of it. While I really didn’t solve the mystery, I was satisfied with it. It made sense. It fit.
Unfortunately, despite all these amazing aspects of Frozen Beauty, I did not love it. There was one thing that just did not work for me that did kind of sour my enjoyment. That is: Tessa seemed to rely on her chimerism too much. I understand why Hillyer included it. Tessa leaned into this aspect of herself to feel connected to Kit. It did explain their relationship. I appreciated that Tessa did stop to question certain things she did and wonder how much was her. I appreciate what Hillyer tried to do with Tessa’s chimerism, it didn’t work for me. It could have been a really interesting conversation about what makes us, us. It could have been thematically relevant. Instead, it fell flat and repetitive.
There wasn’t much that was unique about Tessa– ironically despite her two different eye colors. I can’t even remember how she was characterized other than liking biology. The chimerism robbed her of embracing herself, instead of questioning which part is her and which part is her sister. I wanted Tessa to embrace her own person. I just felt cheated out of character growth with her. The other characters exhibited it, even if it was minor.
The ending further cemented my perspective on Tessa’s chimerism since it was used to explain what happened the knight Kit died. While I understand that another revelation would have had to be told versus shown OR shown through Kit’s perspective, thereby breaking the organization of the book, the ending that was used felt like a cop out. It added a layer of magical realism or at least something “other” that is not otherwise there.
Frozen Beauty is not your standard mystery thriller. At its core, Frozen beauty is about the bonds between sisters. It is about not believing everything you are told. It is a story about loss, love, and secrets.
- She felt that pull, that need to understand.
- All good things come in threes. Or was it that all bad things came in three?
- He liked to imagine the three Malloy sisters that way: three bright points in his sky, their bedroom lights coming on every night, then flickering out a little while later, and with each, he felt connected, rooted to something.
- A world of rules and vows and secrets and allegiances and competitions and handshakes and the intoxicating scent of–
- But who’s been baited and who’s the lure? Who will give in first and ask for more?
- Science teems with seeming contradictions, full of theories that go against all instinct.
- You have to believe in what you can’t see.
- Like me, it fell blindly, without any guide.
- Most fairy tales are told in threes. Three parts: beginning, middle, and end. Three suits, three wishes, three nights. Three sisters.
- If she thought too much about the future, she’d have to think about how small and meaningless she was, just a particle in the vastness of it all.
- Where there was a lost ring, there was halted romance.
- What people don’t seem to understand about good girls is that most of them are not good by choice– they have simply never had the opportunity to be anything other than good. Without even knowing it, they are waiting.
Lexa Hillyer is the Founder and President of Publishing at Glasstown Entertainment, an all-womxn creative development and production company located in New York and Los Angeles. She is also the author of Frozen Beauty, Spindle Fire, Winter Glass, and Proof of Forever, all young adult novels published by HarperCollins, as well as the poetry collection Acquainted with the Cold from Bona Fide Books. Acquainted with the Cold was the 2012 gold prize winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Award for Poetry and received the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize. Her work has been featured in a variety of journals and collections including Best New Poets 2012, and she has received several honors for poetry. Lexa earned her BA in English from Vassar College and her MFA in Poetry from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She worked as an editor at both HarperCollins and Penguin, before founding Glasstown Entertainment along with New York Times Bestselling author Lauren Oliver. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter and their very skinny orange tree.
Click here to enter to win 1 signed copy of Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer. Open only to U.S. residents. This giveaway starts March 17 and ends March 31.