Cover Image: The Coldest Touch

The Coldest Touch

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Member Reviews

I have tried to read this book three times, and unfortunately, haven't been able to get into the story. I am a huge fan of the THESE WITCHES DONT BURN books, and I was expecting to love this one, too, but I just.. don't. It's missing the same dramatic flair that the witches' books have. Also, the formatting of this ARC was absolute hell on my eyes. The PDF format made the font super small and the writing itself started giving me a headache. Again, I really wanted to enjoy this book, but the awful formatting and the strange writing style made this book hard to finish.
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sapphic vampires!! of course i enjoyed this book, it was a great change of pace compared to my usual reads so i DIVED IN HEAD FIRST! and it was amazing.
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I was not a fan of These Witched Don’t Burn, but thought I would give this author one more shot before writing her off.  But this book had many of the same issues as her last that led to me not being a fan.  Alot of showing not telling, little to no romantic chemistry, very slow plot, flat characters

Its not a terrible book so I can’t give it a one, but it didnt work for me
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Really enjoyed this Sapphic vampire romance YA from Isabel Sterling! 

Elise and Claire are both well fleshed out characters, and their relationship is slowly developed in a really authentic way, even in this fantasy world with vampires and curses. I enjoyed their dynamic, and getting to know their back stories and what they are fighting for. 

So enjoying all the queer fiction coming out recently!
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Review posted on GoodReads (November 19, 2021) 
Review Linked. 

3/5 stars! 

A huge thank you to PenguinTeen and NetGalley for sending me an E-ARC of this book. 

I WANTED TO LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. I WANTED TO LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK. And I am so frustrated that I didn’t. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. 

Things I did like: The world building, Wyn’s character, the story around the brother (trying not to spoil, but did not expect that entire outcome so I was pleasantly surprised), the Sapphic, Bi and Nonbinary rep, and the overall concept. 

I think my biggest issue with this book was the pacing of the romance. It was very INSTA-LOVE, and also both characters felt very immature. One moment, the main character was disgusted by vampires, the next she is making an excuse for one, then she is disgusted. It was all very confusing to get a read on the main character and I thought that the love interest was way too instantly in love with our main character for someone who has had a lot of trauma in her love life before now. 

There was also an instance in this book where one character misgendered a nonbinary character for NO REASON. It was not needed at all, and it very much annoyed me. My other problem with this book was how unsupportive the main character’s best friend was. She literally dropped her after her brother’s death and is blaming our MC for being depressed and needing space, as well as befriending a girl in school who is bullying our MC because her brother died and she is traumatized. Then suddenly, we are supposed to forgive the best friend out of nowhere and without very good reason, in my opinion (I don't see this as a spoiler because it happens very soon in the book). For once, I would love a YA book that shows healthy friendship relationships, especially when our MC is going through depression and trauma. Then there is the issue where we weren't told anything about Claire's life as a vampire outside of her romantic relationships and that bothered me. I wanted to know her history, when she was turned into a vampire, and the lives she has lived. 

Lastly, as someone who is Bi, I loved seeing the Bi rep in this book. HOWEVER, our MC is coming out in this book, and I felt like her discussions with herself around identity should have been given just a bit more time on the page. The story did not have to be ABOUT her coming out, but it did need more space and time, in the end coming out a bit rushed at the end. In the end, my favorite characters were Wyn and Jordan, who both deserved better, not the two main characters.

Personally, I think this book needed an extreme amount of editing. The idea is amazing and the writing wasn’t bad, but the story itself had so many issues for me personally—decisions that were there to create drama that just didn’t make sense, or wasn’t needed. 

In the end, I loved the concept, loved the idea of the romance, but the execution was not great and the book needed to be sent through more editing before being published. 

Thanks for reading! 
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I. Loved. This!!! One of the best books of the year, full of magic, mystery, and the sweetest romance of YA in a long time. It's also perfect for the newly changed season, and is the best addition to your wintry fireside reads.
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I so desperately wanted to like this book. The premise is great. The characters are great. Queer vampires? Sign me up, sounds like a dream! Unfortunately, I think I had some of the same issues with this as I did Sterling's other work, and there's a really good chance it has to do with me getting very picky about teenage voices in fiction. I just couldn't get into the prose, as much as I wanted to. Still, I think this book is absolutely for someone, and it'll have a great and deserved fanbase. It just wasn't for me.
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Six months ago, Elise began to see death everywhere.  Every time she touched someone, their deaths unraveled before her.  She was powerless in stopping the death of her brother Nick, and now she has withdrawn from everything.  Claire is a vampire sent by The Veil to train Elise.  Elise is the newest incarnation of the Death Oracle, giving her extraordinary powers involving death.  Once Claire and Elise meets, there is a tension as both try to figure out a way to work together.  After a string of murders at Elise's school, Claire and Elise figure out there is a sinister plot that they have to stop before they both lose everything.

This was a very fast paced, intense, and intriguing vampire story.  Like Stirling's previous novel, the lore and magic in this world is very well fleshed out and made me want to learn more.  I loved the diversity of the characters, and the sweet romance between Elise and Claire.  The twists and turns kept me guessing the whole book, and I hope for another installment.  I look forward to recommending this to my teens.
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Eight years of watching The Vampire Diaries should have prepared me for the plot twists in The Coldest Touch. Alas, they did not, so at least I was in for a fun ride!

Told in dual POV, The Coldest Touch follows Elise and Claire. Elise, who’s grieving the death of her brother, is faced with a horrifying problem—she can see how people die if they touch her. Depraved of any touch, she’s fascinated when Claire touches her and she doesn’t crumble under the visions of someone’s death for the first time in months. Claire, meanwhile, is a vampire who is assigned to recruit Elise, the next Death Oracle, to work for the world’s ruling paranormal group “the Veil”. Though initially reluctant to join forces with a vampire, Elise eventually gives in. Together, the two of them work on unravelling the truth about weird happenings and mysterious murders all while teaching Elise to control her powers so she doesn’t have to see deaths she does not want to know about.

Honestly, this simultaneously made me feel young and old. The only vampire I can think of who’s stuck at seventeen forever is Edward Cullen but Claire definitely gave him a run for his money! It’s just fun to see a new iteration of what being stuck at seventeen looks like, especially in the 2020s. Thus, The Coldest Touch definitely has potential to become a fan favourite for anyone who loves paranormal stories. Beyond the existence of vampires in this story, I really liked the concept of a death oracle and how that’s not only a unique power but how others—read: the patriarchy—would try to take advantage of such a power.

Sterling further poses some captivating questions in this story—faced with immortality, what does each day mean to you? I loved how we got this juxtaposition of Claire who’s been stuck as a vampire and just wants to be done with it all with Elise who is just really unprepared for all of this and doesn’t know who or what to trust. It doesn’t get any easier when it comes to light that a killer is stalking the streets and neither Claire nor Elise can figure out what the killer truly wants. The stakes (hah, excuse the pun) are definitely high and it makes for an entirely atmospheric and creepy read.

This was my first book by Sterling but I was immediately enamoured with the way the author ties everything back together. If you’re looking for loose plot threads or plot holes, you’re not going to find them in The Coldest Touch. Everything that might seem fishy to you or that doesn’t quite make sense in the beginning all ties in to something bigger toward the end and offers quite the entrancing plot twists in the process. There is a lot to discuss in less than four hundred pages—not only is Elise still grieving for her brother and dealing with her parents’ different approach to grief, not to mention an ex-boyfriend and broken friendships, she now also has to deal with the responsibility of being a Death Oracle. Meanwhile Claire is not only overwhelmed with her new assignment, angry at her own existence and kinda sorta feeling some type of way for Elise, but she’s also dealing with the baggage from her past and her increasingly weird feelings toward her place of employment. It’s…a lot. Yet the story never feels “overloaded” and instead, the struggles of Claire and Elise complement each other and work well in balance with the overall murder mystery that is heading readers’ way. It’s a remarkable feat to make all of this work so well in such a short amount of time.

With a sapphic romance, a thrilling murder mystery and a refreshing take on vampires and other myths, The Coldest Touch is the queer, spooky, and well-paced story you need on your shelves this December!
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Thank you to Razorbill/Penguin Teen for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

The Coldest Touch is a really interesting premise: a young girl who is the only Death Oracle, and a vampire who has to convince her to fulfill the role. I really loved the premise, the paranormal world that was crafted for this, and the plot, but I actually really struggled with it. There's something about the writing that just didn't click for me. 

For me, there was just no oomph. It was a decent book, and okay book, but altogether not super amazing, I suppose.
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3.75 stars. Thank you to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. What a great YA vampire book! I loved that this was a sapphic vampire story that included a diverse cast of characters. Overall I enjoyed the details and the subject matter of the story. I thought the gift that Elise had was really interesting and the involvement of the supernatural world was fun. I think the biggest reason why I gave this 3.75 was the pacing of the story. Although I never felt like reading the book was a chore, it did take me a little longer than anticipated to finish because I felt like the pacing was slow. I think too much time was spent on Elise dwelling on her power rather than the actual training/figuring out the big mystery. I also felt like the ending was TOO happy and wrapped with a bowtie. Overall, I'll still recommend this to folks to check out.
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As you guessed it, by all the reviews, this is a Sapphic Vampire story. And this book is full of the queer paranormal representation that was well written.

Elise isn’t normal. She can see how a person dies by just a touch. Something her predecessor passed on in death. She’s part of an order and she has no clue. Her brother dies and it was something she couldn’t stop, which sets the coarse of the story. Enter Claire, a Vampier sent by The Veil.. or the order as I refer to it; I watch too many movies, to help Elise master her talents. Claire isn’t in the mood to help anyone and wants to be left alone, but when she predicts a teachers murder she decides she wants to stop before it happens.. since she couldn’t with her brother. 

Part paranormal, part mystery this story packs on a lot of emotions. The characters are well developed and driven. It’s a revenge story at heart in the subplot. I think what lacked for me was how underdeveloped some of the main factors were. For example the magic system is just “bam here you go” and could have used more. I also wasn’t a fan of how the story begins. It’s a bit random in areas and I was bored… meaning it took me a while to get into the story. Other than that I loved the concept and like I said before the characters.
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Let us start with the fact that The Coldest Touch might convert me into a vampire enthusiast yet. Normally I’m firmly anti-vampire, but the intriguing premise and promise of sapphic romance was enough to lure me to the dark side.

This might be one of the only times “lure” is used in a positive context, because holy cow, I’m so glad I was in fact lured. Sterling creates a darkly intriguing world filled with all sorts of supernatural entities and spooky delights. 

The whole premise of the Death Oracle (a person who can predict death) combined with all the other elements of the world make for a truly magical read. Combine it with light writing and snappy dialogue, and you have an all around captivating read. 

The Coldest Touch has a lot of great things going for it, but I wish there would have been more stakes throughout the book. We felt some of it towards the end, but I wish it would have had more urgency throughout. I felt like I was being dragged through the events, rather than experiencing the story unfold. 

The pacing honestly feels all over the place because the vast majority of this book was spent training. That didn’t help with the whole “being dragged along” effect. Maybe if The Coldest Touch had leaned more into the complicated political climate within the Veil and less on training, training, and more training some parts wouldn’t have felt as dragged out. 

Additionally, some of the side characters felt a bit underdeveloped. Like vehicles to move the plot forward. This applies more to Elise’s friends than to the other characters (like Wyn) but it is still something that irked me a bit. Especially because parts of the beginning were reliant on Elise having to rebuild friendships following her brother’s death, I needed a bit more development to care. 

That being said, the found family sort of relationship between Wyn and Claire is one of my favorites from the book. The way they bickered like siblings, but still supported each other was just brilliant. 

The way the conflict gets resolved wasn’t my favorite. I don’t want to say it was too easy, but also… it felt too easy. Like we spent the whole book building up to this dramatic confrontation just for it to feel anticlimactic. And then a huge uno-reverse is pulled on one of the main motivators for the entire plot. Which sort of felt like it was unraveling the entire point of everything ever. 

All and all, The Coldest Touch is a fun spooky read. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for low-fantasy, dual pov, and some good ole vampires! But in the meantime, add it to your tbr if it sounds intriguing!
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3.75/5 stars

*Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Teen for sending me an eARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Sapphic. Vampires.


This book was definitely one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Ever since I saw the cover on a random instagram post, I have been super excited to read it, and I really enjoyed it. 

Elise is a death oracle. She can see how people are going to die just by touching them, and after failing to save her brother, she is desperate to rid herself of this new power. Claire is a vampire. Stuck at 17, she is in charge of training the new death oracle. Basically, we got queer forced proximity...with paranormals.

This book is filled with queer rep including a bi mc and lesbian mc, as well as a prominent pan side character, and a prominent non-binary side character, both of whom are well developed and I adore.

I wish the magic system had been more developed. Some things weren't explained well or were resolved off page, and we never learn how. This could have been done better, but I didn't mind too much. 

I love the revenge plotline and the platonic relationships between Wyn and Claire as well as Jordan and Elise, but I wish those two side characters had more of an arc, and the romance between the mcs could have definitely used a bit more buildup and chemistry. 

I honestly wish this was a duology. The story could easily be picked up and explore Claire's plotline a bit more from the end of the book onward. There is so much room to incorporate Jordan with a love interest maybe his own plotline, and Wyn deserves some more page time as well because I love them. Fingers crossed for a sequel. 

Basically, I just wanted more.
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I was sold the moment I saw that this was a paranormal f/f romance. For that romance to be between a vampire and an oracle of death and to center around a murder mystery made this the perfect spooky sapphic standalone.  

Elise's power to see death - and her subsequent emotional reaction to gaining this power - are unique and incredibly heartbreaking yet realistic, and I sympathized with her immensely. I also particularly loved her relationship with her two best friends: the fact that she shut them out due to her own trauma and had to regain their trust, and the way that Jordan is both an ex-boyfriend and still a trusted friend and confidant led to an excellent dynamic. Her love for her recently deceased brother is the driving point of the story, and her family's different grieving processes were incredibly important to see on page. 

Claire's storyline is a bit more predictable, but I did love the metaphorical meaning behind her being turned as a teenager and what that means for the remainder of her immortal life. Her trauma and drive for revenge make for excellent character motivation, and any time the narrative paints her as impulsive or overreactive, it's justified and makes her more real. Also, her sisterly relationship with her mentor Wyn is incredibly sweet. 

This book unexpectedly touched on a few topics that I was happy to see mentioned, even briefly - how Wyn is just one example of the fact that nonbinary and gender nonconforming individuals have always been around and often had their gender identities ignored or erased by history, Jordan's comment about how getting too close to murder investigations puts him in danger because he's a young black man and would be falsely accused, etc.
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I just finished this book last night and absolutely loved it! This book is many things in one: YA horror, paranormal, urban fantasy, romance, and queer as hell. Highlights for me include one MC figuring out her bisexuality, a nonbinary vampire, and there is a murdery serial killer. Really hoping there will be a second book set in this world!
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Fast-paced and emotional queer vampire story! Alternating perspectives really work as the new so-called "Death Oracle" tries to understand her powers and the magical world around her, while grieving the recent death of her brother. A twisty plot, likeable characters, and a slow-burn romance makes this an easy, but thoroughly satisfying read. Would recommend to fans of Sterling's other works, and paranormal romance.
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Thai book was SO GOOD! The main character can see your death when she touches you, giving the book an already intriguing factor. Then vampires join and they tie into this story very well, especially with their history and how it all comes together at the end. And then I absolutely love how the main character actually told her friends about everything and they didn’t freak out!!! That never happens and it was wonderful to not waste time on those petty squabbles during the story. Finally, the romance was so cuteee I love them together. And of course it took a while for them to realize and admit it but when they did it’s amazing. And with a little cliffhanger I can’t wait to read the next book!
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with queer vampires, twists and turns, and a chaotic cat, the coldest touch is a very fun read!

i loved every character in this book!! not only were claire and elise great, relatable protagonists, but every side character was also so lovable. even though this story gets pretty dark, the characters are really funny so there was a nice balance!

i was already intrigued from the beginning, but the story just kept getting better as it went on! the plot was fun to follow and i enjoyed the way it was written. also, there were multiple twists i didn’t see coming at all!!

i loved a lot about this book, but the main relationship sort of bothered me. the main character is 16 and the love interest became a vampire at 17, so she’s basically stuck at that age. but even though she’s “trapped at age 17” she’s still been alive for like, 100 years? i’m just not sure how that works so i would’ve felt weird shipping them.

while i was uncertain about the relationship, the story itself is an interesting, spooky read with amazing characters! 

thank you penguin teen for sending me this arc!
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