Cold Kiss

Cold Kiss  - Amy Garvey To be honest, this book surprised me, because it wasn't what I expected when I picked it. I'm not actually sure what I expected; the usual ingredients in a YA paranormal romance novel, I suppose, some of which are present (witchcraft, zombies, a kind of 'love triangle'...). Then I found out that what matters here isn't the plot itself, which is quite pared down in itself. Reading and also writing stories that tend to be heavy plot-wise, sometimes I tend to forget that there are other, powerful elements that can carry a story to its end. Feelings are one of those. And "Cold Kiss" is definitely ripe with feelings.

The novel revolves around Wren, a young witch (although she's only called that once, I think) who had to deal with finding her first real love, Danny, only to lose him barely a few months later. Heart-broken, grief-stricken, she didn't think it through so much when she took the fateful decision of bringing Danny back from the dead; only what she brought back was only 'mostly' Danny. As a living boy, he used to be sweet; he used to love her with all his soul and give his all for her. As a dead one... no matter how Wren wants to convince herself that he's still 'her' Danny, something's wrong, definitely wrong. And the time is soon to come when she must face the consequences of what she's done.

In any other story, I think Wren would have been a whiny, childish, self-centered protagonist, that I probably would have found annoying at best; however, Amy Garvey managed to made her all this, with the added bonus that we actually understand why she acts the way she does, and are driven to wonder, "wouldn't I react just the same way?" I wanted to be angry at her for brushing Gabriel's help away—but in truth, were I still 17, wouldn't I also try to fix my mistakes by myself, and snap off in the process? Wouldn't I be angry at my mother for never explaining me anything, thus unexpectedly leading me to commit a mistake I might have not considered if I had been warned about it before? If given the opportunity to bring back my beloved from the dead, wouldn't I desperately want to do it, so broken that I just wouldn't be able to think about the unwanted consequences? This is the kind of questions I want to ask myself when reading such a story, and the latter indeed hit home with those.

The story in itself was fairly simple: no convoluted plot, nothing that can't be predicted easily enough from the start. This said, I wouldn't have it any other way, for what makes the strength of this book is the way the author deals with her characters. Throughout the novel, they were all caught in their own web of conflicted feelings, often stemming from their sadness and frustration—and love. Wren's love for Danny, and her sadness at knowing that everything was different. Wren's friends, feeling betrayed, made either fretful or angered by their worry. Growing estrangement between Wren and her mother. Above all, the constant despair; the ticking clock; the certainty that the outcome cannot be a nice happily-ever-after ending; and Wren's dread at knowing what she has to do, being determined to repair her mistake, trying to make amends, yet also fearing having her heart broken again...

Danny, the undead boyfriend, was frightening in his own way. So pale, so cold, so silent—so disturbing. No need for a gory, brain-eating zombie description to make him creepy. Yet at the same time, he was also a tragic figure (in that he was made tragic by someone else's hubris and fault), a boy lost in a world he couldn't understand anymore, because he couldn't exist in it the way he used to. I tried to imagine what it must have been for such a character: locked in a room all day long, with no one to talk to, only his broken thoughts to keep him company, not even knowing that he was actually dead... And this was just dreadful.

The only think I was somewhat hesitant about was Gabriel's presence. He seemed a little too intent to help with such a mess, when he indeed barely knew Wren—I was two inches of sighing "insta-love" (not something that I like a lot in books in general, I must say). The story may have worked just as well without him, although in that case, it would probably have been shorter, too. He's not an unlikeable character, far from it; but he also didn't feel indispensable to me.