Cover Image: The Coldest Touch

The Coldest Touch

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Member Reviews


I love a good vampire novel, bonus points if it's sapphic. So, this already had a good start in my books. I loved that it gave me a few Buffy vibes for the overall feel of the book and the supernatural world itself. I definitely wish we had gotten more of the supernatural world (the Veil) but it was a good, strong, urban fantasy. (And frankly, I don't read enough of those)

I loved Clair our vampire shepherd and I ADORED Wyn, honestly, I wish they had their own book (fingers crossed for that to be a thing??). 

I did have a harder time connecting with Elise. I didn't really ever find enough interest in her to care about her as much as I wanted to (as much as I cared about Wyn, or Elise's best friend Jordan, or Claire).

The writing style is smooth and the descriptions are great between Elise and Claire, I always felt like Sterling did a great job contrasting them while not making it so obvious she was pointing out the differences. (Which we know super early on lol).

The storyline was great but I'm hoping this isn't a standalone given some stuff that happens near the end. IF it is a standalone that's why I've marked it at 3.5 instead of a full 4, if I find out it's got a sequel, I'll bump it up; because without knowing that, it's either something with not enough of an ending for me or it's the perfect start to a series/duology/multiple books.

Again, super enjoyable read. I loved Claire and Elise though at times it felt a little too rushed between them and I appreciate the care Sterling put into writing Elise as questioning and showing her insecurities on that.

3.5/5 Cups of coffee, would read again lol.  Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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The Coldest Touch follows Elise who is cursed to see the deaths of whoever she touches. After seeing her brother's death and failing to save him, she's willing to do anything to get rid of her ability. Then Claire shows up in town to teach her how to use her abilities, though Elise doesn't know if she can trust her since she's a vampire. 

I was very interested in the supernatural world for this book. The hierarchical society of the vampires intrigued me. I also really loved Claire's boss and friend, Wyn. Of course, I had to read it because it's sapphic, though I wish we could have seen more of the fallout. In general, I didn't really like Elise that much. She judged a lot about Claire's life, even after feeling sympathy for her, and sometimes had strange reactions to things. I felt bad for Claire because the feelings were way more stacked on her side. I did appreciate that Claire's maturity level was explained because she was turned so young, that's usually a problem I have with vampire books. For me, this was a 3.5/5. 

If you like sapphic vampires, changing people's fates, or think it would be awful to see death everywhere, this is the one for you. 

I received a digital copy of this book free from Penguin Young Readers Group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Oh my gosh! I loved this book! I really enjoyed the plot, and the different way that certain creatures were brought up and I really enjoyed the character development!
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I didn’t know what to expect going into this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

Elise Beaumont is cursed with knowing when and how people are going to die when she touches them thanks to her abilities as a death oracle. Elise as completely shut everyone out (including her best friend and ex boyfriend) after her brother’s death…that is, until she meets Claire Montgomery, who she can touch without visions because she’s a vampire. 

From start to finish, I loved the chemistry between Elise and Claire. There’s so much witty banter between them and flirting…even if one of them is in denial about their feelings and sexuality. 

I loved the queer normative setting and the queer questioning and identity. 

Vampires are my kryptonite, and I think Sterling does a fantastic job of adding to the lore with this story. 

I’m not sure if this story continues, but I would love to revisit these characters.
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Somehow Isabel Sterling read my mind about wanting sapphic vampires and wrote this book just for me. I don't know how she did it but she did. While I'm not sure if this is a standalone or not, I would love to read more books in this universe and see more from our main characters. There was a lot of world building and things of that sort for this to just be one book, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The discovering your sexuality was a big enough part to not generalize or not pay attention to, but it also didn't take away from the main plot of the book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Thank you Penguin Teen for sending me a copy for review!!
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The Coldest Touch follows Elise and Claire. When Elise touches someone she can see how they die. She's haunted by her brother's death and avoids all physical contact. Then she meets Claire, a vampire assigned to shepherd or train Elise with her gift. Claire tells Elise that she's the Death Oracle and has a specific purpose in life now. Since Claire is undead, Elise is able to touch her, which is when she first realizes something is different about Claire. With murders happening around them, they work together to investigate what's going on as the paranormal world meets the normal world.

CWs: abandonment, blood, child death, death, grief, murder, violence

I'm a cover buyer and this cover definitely drew me in. I enjoyed the friendships and how much Elise's friends loved and trusted her. I found myself drawn in by the plot and wondering what was going on as well as trying to figure out what happened to Elise's brother's body. The book started off slow but I liked that it picked up, even if it was a little predictable. I wanted urgency throughout the book to keep me hooked. 

While I appreciated the diversity in terms of sexuality, I felt like Elise's journey to understanding her sexuality deserved a little more attention. I also felt like some of the diversity was forced. I was confused by Elise always saying someone's race, especially when she was thinking about Maggie, who was her best friend for years. It was a little hard to get past. One thing I always struggle with when it comes to vampire stories is the ability to compel humans. The water gets murky for me in terms of consent and while I think Sterling tried to address this, I still felt a little icky at times hearing about what was happening. 

If you're looking for a dual-POV, sapphic vampire story, I definitely recommend checking this one out.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Teen for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately, I did have to DNF this at 17%. I went into this SO EXCITED because it was marketed as sapphic twilight (which I guess was there). What bothered me about this and made me stop reading it was the blatantly forced diversity. There are multiple examples of this:

“Across the polished mahogany table, a Korean American girl pushes her pesto risotto around with a spoon”

“Grace, a white girl with light brown hair that falls all the way to her lower back, nods.”

“‘I wouldn’t bother,’ says a voice behind us. A Black boy, not the one from the homecoming photos, steps into view”

"Coach Cochrane, a white man in his forties with dark hair streaked through with gray, appears from his office"


“Maggie, a petite Korean American girl with dark hair that falls past her shoulders, stands near the stairs that lead to the school's grand entrance.”


The diversity rep is so forced it literally doesn’t even make sense. It’s only provided this book with bad representation and bad writing.

Every single time a character speaks their name and race are mentioned.

There is a right way to add diversity and representation into books and this was not it. Mentioning a character's race every time they speak does not make a book diverse. I literally could not take it anymore and had to DNF.

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This book was such a fun read and I loved the vampire aspect . The plot was very engaging and overall well developed I can't wait to read another book from this author.
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Thank you so much @PenguinTeen for this gifted copy to review!

A vengeful vampire and a Cassandra-esque teen come together in this sapphic YA thriller/Urban Fantasy. When Elise discovers she can foretell death by just a touch, her life spirals out of control. She loses everything that she once held dear just to avoid the horrible visions of others deaths but especially of those she loves. Enter Claire, a vampire assigned by the Veil – a mysterious paranormal agency - to help her come to grips with her gift/curse and to master it to better help the world. 

The Coldest Touch is an easy book to rip through in a day. The premise is intriguing, dark and spooky, with a few of my favorite tropes thrown in. I loved the dual POV between Claire and Elise, I think this made the story flow and the twists twistier. There’s a found family element, my favorite, that I loved, and a sense of urgency and drama that kept the plot moving forward. 

Overall, a great choice for anyone looking for a fun read with a quickly paced plot and fantastic characters. Hoping to see a sequel!
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Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


I really hope there will be a sequel!!

The Coldest Touch is a YA supernatural urban fantasy story that centers on two teenagers: Elise, a girl with strange powers to see how people die when she touches them, and Claire, a vampire who works for the Veil, a mysterious supernatural agency. Elise just wants to be a normal teenager, but after her brother dies and she develops mystery death powers, she feels like her world is crumbling. Claire is out for vengeance against her maker, but before she can be granted that she has to teach Elise to use her Death Oracle powers so Elise can begin working for the Veil.

I loved this book so much!! It was so much fun and I need more queer supernatural books like this. I loved seeing Elise and Claire's relationship develop. The death oracle powers were so cool and I loved all the training Elise went through. Besides that, there's also a murder mystery going on. There are definitely darker aspects to this book, but I loved every second of it.

I really would like to know more about the Veil, and what exactly they all do to protect supernaturals. I also want to see more Death Oracle powers, bc it was the coolest part of this book! I also loved all the diversity in the book. Wynn is my favorite nonbinary vampire ever and I need more vamps like them!

Rep: white questioning-bisexual female MC, white lesbian female MC, Black bi/pansexual male side character, Black female side character, white nonbinary side character, adopted Korean American female side character.

CWs: Abandonment, alcohol consumption, blood, child death, death, grief, murder, violence.
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I love Isabel Sterling as an author. I fell in love with her previous duology "These Witches Don't Burn" and I think ended up crying. So when I heard she was releasing a new sapphic book with vampires, I was immediately sold.

Elise is trying to cope with the fact that she now has powers that let her see someone's death whenever they touch her. That on top of her brother dying in an accident leads to Elise straight up not having a good time. Enter Claire, a vampire who is sent to help Elise control her powers before they can be used by the wrong forces. Oh, and Claire is one of the few people who can touch Elise. Together, they must figure out her powers while also facing unseen forces to keep Elise and her loved ones safe.

I absolutely loved this book! The worldbuilding is exquisitely done. We get to learn about the various supernatural beings at play in this whole building war, and also get some internal conflict behind the organization, The Veil, that is meant to protect supernaturals such as vampires. I also loved the twist on vampire lore that is shown to us. They can still go in sun as long as they feed a decent amount. They have "compulsion," which is basically mind control but with its own perks. Even though these are small differences, these features of vampires I felt made it unique and still fresh to read about. I also really liked the Death Oracle explanations we got. In a way, it kind of reminded me of the Avatar state from Avatar the Last Airbender.

The cast of characters were also really well executed. Claire is the tough girl who also has a troubled past that keeps her from attaching normally. Elise is touch deprived and also trying to figure out her sexuality. I wish there was a bit more of a focus on that, because there were a few times it was hinted, but only ever really discussed once or twice. But I liked that it didn't become a "I'm scared to tell my parents I'm gay," which helps really normalize being gay in this story. There was also a non-binary side character and I was absolutely thriving off of their existence. The side cast I think was also good, although I did not find Delilah as compelling of a villain as I hoped she would be. Her reveal was impactful, but her motives as they were laid out didn't have much of an impact on me. It felt kind of surface level.

The plot was a pretty standard "we have to figure out powers" timeline, and I was able to guess one minor plot twist from the beginning. But the rest I was completely clueless on, and that was fun to experience. There were also some really good discussions in the story about what really qualifies as a life and morality.

The Coldest Touch is a fresh, fast-paced supernatural story about who we love and highly recommend if you're looking for a new paranormal romance.
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Vampires in high school, but make it queer. A YA paranormal fantasy with a slow-burn sapphic romance plot line. First of all, I was sold by the gorgeous cover. 

So we have Elise - a death oracle who can visualize and feel the manner of someone’s death by touching their skin who meets Clair - a lesbian vampire, and a mission to uncover the truth behind the mysterious murders that are happening near them. 

With dual POV - this story gives a nuanced journey involving grief, growth, and accepting your identity and power. It’s an easy read with surprising twists that kept it interesting. Sterling gives a refreshing take on the paranormal elements. Between the main and side characters, there’s also bisexual, pansexual, and non-binary representation.

I’m caught around a 3.5-4⭐️ rating (mostly based on some of the pacing and style of descriptive writing) but feel that it’s worth 4⭐️ for the purpose of this app.
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THE COLDEST TOUCH by Isabel Sterling is an enjoyable read. Claire's voice and her wonderfully dry (and sly) humor really hooked me. This is a book my students can use as an example of a dual POV with distinctive first-person voices. It's so hard to pull this off and Sterling does such a fantastic job with this. I really enjoyed THE COLDEST TOUCH and look forward to sharing it with my creative writing students.
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<b/>Thank you to Penguin/Razorbill, the author, and NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This book will release December 7, 2021.</b>

<i>Her words shouldn't hurt, but all I can hear are the things she needs from me. Promises and assurances and a body without a death.</i>

This book is EXACTLY my kind of contemporary fantasy. No joke. There's so much to love about it: the integration of fantasy into the real world, a paranormal governing body, vampires, the fact that a lot of the action is based on bargaining and research and that I shouted "HAVE A LAWYER LOOK AT THAT CONTRACT," all of this make this book a perfect read. That, and slow-burn sapphic romance.

Plus, it has a lot of worldbuilding elements that I am incredibly attached to for personal reasons.

Unfortunately, this is the part where I confess that I have a cold (haha, isn't that thematically appropriate in a way?) and this review is not going to come NEAR doing justice to how much I adored this book. But we're proceeding anyway, because I want you to know my thoughts before it releases in [checks Baby Yoda calendar] two days.

Since her brother died, Elise has experienced visions of death at every touch, leading her to isolate herself from her family and friends—and the friends she does tell don't believe her. Now, approximately a year later, Claire—a vampire working for the Veil, a paranormal secrecy organization headed by vampires—shows up to inform Elise that she is the new Death Oracle. Training montage, relationship drama, and murders ensue, as well as some really intriguing inter-vampire conflicts. Because being the Death Oracle is a job, with a boss, and they're not the only ones who want to use Elise's powers.

I think my two favorite elements of this book, though, were Elise's death-prediction ability and everything surrounding that, and her gradual questioning of her sexuality. Of course, these are sort of tied together through the progression of the plot, but the latter one definitely merits being mentioned separately. The romance is minimal, but you can tell it's there and that it has an opportunity to grow, which I think is a nice change, too. I also really liked that the ending isn't tied up too tightly—there are definitely opportunities for more escapades for Elize and Claire, it feels.

Anyway, this book is really good, okay? I'm looking forward to picking this book up and rereading it when my head doesn't feel like it's going to explode, and if there happened to be a sequel somewhere down the line (please, let's fix publishing's fate like a Death Oracle does so we can have that), that would be even better.
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I initially DNF'd and have come back to it. Glad I did. 

Thank you SO much to Penguin Teen for sending a copy of this book my way. It's always a pleasure! 

If you've been wanting the YA "vampire in high school" trope but super gay, this is the one. It felt nostalgic but with queer characters that should've been there in previous vampire fandoms. Elise (16) has recently come into powers that make her see the death of anyone she touches. Claire (forever 17) has been sent by the Veil to help train Elise to use that power. Though reluctant at first, paranormals start attacking the town forcing Elise to pair up with Claire to find out why it's happening and how to stop them. If you like immortal LIs, low stakes, low fantasy/paranormal stories, I think you will enjoy this. 

Things I liked:
•this fills a queer, sapphic space that I wanted when I was a teen
•the vampire lore is a mix of some of my favorite elements (think volturi and vampire diaries but with queen of the damned aspects too)
•I like that the unhealthy/problematic actions were addressed
•Maggie and Jordan were my favs (wish they got more development)
•Wyn and Claire's bickering 🤣
•the magic behind the Death Oracle sounds very interesting though needs more explanation 

Additional thoughts: I was under the impression that The Coldest Touch was a standalone book but the finale was so open ended that I'm not sure this story is complete. So my thoughts have a catch. If the series continues, I think this, as a first book, does well at giving enough of the world to make us interested to know more in the coming books. If this is a standalone, there are too many questions that went unanswered leaving the magic system as well as the whole story under explained and hard to grasp. The finale truly just feels unfinished. If another book emerges for this, I will be reading it to gather the missing pieces we weren't given in this.

Please check additional resources as these are ones I noticed but there is not an official list given.
CWs: death (on page car accident and drowning), body horror, gore, murder, manipulation, negligent parent, parental abandonment (addressed), brief mention of non-consent kiss from past.
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This was an alright read. I liked the characters and I appreciated the exploration of friendship and family, as well as grief and how that affect the two kinds relationship. I just wanted more. Same with the plot, I wanted more layers and complexities.
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Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for an arc of this book.

When Elise is cursed with the ability to see the death of anyone she touches, she is determined to do anything she can to take it away and get back to her old life. But the new girl, Claire, knows that Elise is the new Death Oracle, and she reveals to Elise that she is a Vampire sent to train her to use her ability.

This book! I can't do it justice with a review. I love it so so so much. The relationship between Claire and Elise is just...perfect. Heart eyes. 10/10! I love the plot, and the character building, and the writing style. Literally everything about this book called to me. It was super fast paced and a quick read, and it was so beautifully done. The only thing I'm sad about is that it ended!

CW: Blood, Death, Grief

Pub Date: Dec 7, 2021
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DNF at 20%

I'm sad I wasn't more into this because the concept is great! A sapphic paranormal story with a vampire and a girl who can see how people will die? Sounds cool! I was hoping for something mysterious and page turning, but it reads more like your typical YA contemporary and lacks any sense of mystery. Honestly I was just really bored. Everything about who these characters are is told to you, you don't get to feel how freaked out the human character might be encountering a potential vampire, you kind of know most of what the stakes seem to be, so it's more just about a girl dealing with trauma after the loss of her brother and new ability to see how people will die. Not bad necessarily and I think there are readers who will still like this, but nothing here is intriguing me enough to want to keep reading.
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Thank you so much to the publisher, Penguin Teen, for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I want to preface this review by saying that this is a great book and I think a lot of readers will enjoy it! But for me, it felt predictable and I felt like I knew where the plot was going to go once the situation was set up among the characters and the world. This isn't a bad thing in books at all but I personally don't like to guess correctly where a story is going to go. I like to be surprised and I didn't get that with this book. 

One thing I really enjoyed while reading this book was the relationship between the main character and Claire. It felt really authentic, it didn't happen instantly and they had their ups and downs just like real people would when trying to figure out the relationship that they have with someone they think they like. It was an adorable romance that I really enjoyed reading and it is one of the best I have read in YA! Not insta-lovey at all and was a great romance. 

Overall, I think a lot of readers are going to enjoy this book. I think the characters are really likable and the plot is quick and interesting. It just wasn't the perfect book for me as it was predictable as I mentioned and was quite repetitive with what was going on in the plot and how things were connected to one another. That got old since I read this book over a short period of time so I was able to remember those key details that kept getting repeated over and over again. But overall, I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, it is a great read and I look forward to reading more from this author!
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This was so good! I loved everything about this book but especially our main characters. Both girls where unique and I loved the switching narration between the girls as well. Even of the back and forth did make me just want to grab the girls and make them just talk to each other! I loved the side characters from this book as well especially the best friends. I loved how they contributed to the story in such a meaningful way. 
Overall this was just a fantastic book!
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