Book Review: Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey 

By  Turn The Page

‘When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved. 

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.’

Book Review

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy Cold Kiss or not. A few bloggers had piqued my interest in it, but to be honest, I am not a zombie kinda-gal. It also sounded a bit too much like every other paranormal romance out there. But Cold Kiss really is something a bit different. It’s not really a zombie tale or another ‘destined’ romance. At its heart, it’s a story about grief and about living.

I was impressed by the depth this story had, without getting too serious, and found it a refreshing paranormal romance. Wren is a very easy character to connect with. She does something so incredibly foolish, so stupid, that you can’t help but want to shake her and say ‘girl what are you doing!!!??!” But at the same time, you can’t help but sympathize with her. Because, how many of us, really, would be strong enough to make the other choice – if we had the power to bring back the people we love? You cannot judge Wren for her actions, not least of which because Garvey makes it clear that Wren is well aware of how badly she has messed up and how desperately she wants to make it right.

What I loved about Cold Kiss was that it portrayed a realistic, mature relationship, often unusual for a paranormal romance. Wren and Danny’s relationship is healthy, normal, supportive, fun, and loving. When Wren finally lets Danny go, she comes to understand that no matter how much you love someone, you still don’t have the right to own or control that person. She realizes that what she has done was not only foolish but cruel and selfish.

I only wish we had gotten more of Danny. Not only the Danny that Wren brings back but the boy she fell in love with. The strongest moments of Cold Kiss were her memories of him, of what the two of them had together, and by the end of the book, like Wren, I ached to know that that boy was gone, and he wasn’t coming back. It made the scenes where she remembers how kind and caring he was, memories of Danny teasing her, giving her piggyback rides, singing to her over the phone, and million other little things, especially poignant and bittersweet. Garvey handles the grief of losing a loved one well, and there is one moment in particular when Wren breaks down in the basement after Danny’s funeral that is very well-executed and powerfully raw that it brought tears to my eyes.

Not that Cold Kiss is without its faults. I absolutely hated the Gabriel plotline. I think that authors and publishers believe that if there isn’t a (current) romantic interest, teenagers simply won’t be interested. Gabriel’s character is underdeveloped and the interest between him and Wren is forced and pushed too quickly to try to explain why he takes Wren’s powers and the fact that she is hiding a dead boyfriend, in his stride. It doesn’t work and only his character is unbelievable and his presence just detracts from Wren’s own story, while feeling superficial next to Wren and Danny’s romance. I understand why Garvey gives Wren a potential new love interest (I say potential because they don’t quite get together, though Gabriel’s feelings are clearly very strong from the get-go – another example of insta-love that thus far this book had managed to avoid). I suspect it shows that Wren, no matter how she feels right now, is able to fall in love again. But I feel this could have been conveyed just as well without creating the overdone love triangle.

There is also an unresolved mystery concerning her mother and father that was built up and never fully explained, which I found frustrating. Wren’s relationship with her mother was an interesting story arc and it felt incomplete. If Wren was going to turn to anyone for help and support, I wanted it to be her mother (which would have been unique for a YA novel), instead of the new boy from school.

There wasn’t quite enough here to make this a really emotional read. But on the whole, this was a well-written, engaging book. It was perhaps a little predictable, and the story was nothing new, but there were some very touching scenes and it explores the pain and grief of losing a loved one in a realistic way. Not a favorite by any means, but an enjoyable, easy read.

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Many thanks to HarperTeen and NetGalley for making Cold Kiss available for review.