“It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.
Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.
But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.
Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.
But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.”
Thoughts: How many people, when faced with the devastating loss of a loved one, wish that they could bring said loved one back? That death was not the final barrier it appears to be? Now, what if one could actually bring someone back from the dead? In Amy Garvey’s Cold Kiss, Wren has the ability to put into action what most people fervently wish in their hearts when facing the death of a beloved. The far-reaching and unforeseen consequences of her actions make for one of the more compelling YA novels of 2011.
To really get to the heart of Cold Kiss, one must ignore the fact that Wren has witchy powers. When that element is removed from the picture, a reader can concentrate on the emotional trauma Wren continues to face after the death of her first love. Readers of any age can relate to her inability to let go and refusal to move on. They can appreciate her need to right her own wrongs without relying on the proffered help that would make the entire situation more bearable. More importantly, they can recognize her sense of abandonment that goes all the way back to her parents’ separation. This underlying grief only ratchets up the tension.
Amy Garvey excels at presenting Wren as teen with a broken heart. With the entrance of Gabriel, her warring desires to move on with her life versus fear of what others will think versus the horrific thoughts of putting Danny to rest figuratively and literally make the reader ache for her. More importantly, in showcasing this struggle, Ms. Garvey is highlighting the fact that Wren is still young and has her entire life before her. More importantly, she is not meant to pine after her first great love forever. It is a refreshingly common sense approach to growing up, something that the paranormal YA genre tends to gloss over in lieu of a happily-ever-after ending.
Cold Kiss is a beautiful story of love and loss. The premise is simple, while the heart of the novel lies in Wren’s pain and her touching struggle to right a terrible wrong. Wren’s need – for Danny, for her friends, for feeling better – is almost palpable. This poignant powerhouse brilliantly captures Wren’s feelings perfectly, and the reader is brought along for the ride. The whole power as-a-metaphor-for-her-surging-emotions supernatural element, while done way too often these days, is nicely balanced with the more realistic aspects of the story. Wren’s plight gets under the reader’s skin and firmly lodges there until the emotionally draining end. Readers will long remain haunted by Wren’s situation and this novel about the power of love to unite and to destroy.
Acknowledgements: Mine. All mine.