Psychometrist Gwen Frost returns in this series sequel to investigate mysteries and attempt to forestall a clash of titans.
With her usual sarcasm and self-deprecation, Gwen again narrates, while Estep capitalizes on details she laid in opener Touch of Frost (2011). Characters who previously resembled caricatures gain new depth, and the evolving storyline grows more nuanced. Gwen herself is wiser, flexing greater understanding of people’s mystifying motives. By the time she and her mythologically descended classmates attend the annual Winter Carnival, early in the novel, Gwen has survived two attacks on her life. A third attempt to thwart Gwen occurs soon enough, but the book's gnawing tension stems from the romantic subplots. Gwen’s main squeeze eludes her long enough for readers to empathize with those moments when jealousy strikes her—in this manner, as in many others, high school is the same for preternaturally gifted adolescents as for normal ones. The author deftly manipulates other teenage crushes, planting false trails as to who wants Gwen dead, though these red herrings will be obvious to some readers. No twists profoundly stun or enlighten, and sinister moments that arise fail to elicit spasms of horror. Estep elects to keep from exploring Gwen's dark side but exploits her magical powers in innovative ways.
Less formulaic and more suspenseful than its precursor, though still on the tame side. (Urban fantasy. 12 & up)