9:00 am EDT, June 14, 2019

‘Frozen Beauty’ cover, excerpt dive into secrets, loss, and sisterhood

Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer is a contemporary YA thriller about the power of sisterhood and the pain of death. Check out the cover reveal and prologue here!

The title of Frozen Beauty is just as haunting as the book’s synopsis, and it certainly has a cover to match. Laid out in icy blues and stark whites, Hillyer’s cover is simple yet striking.

Three figures, our three sisters, adorn the front. Two are staring at the reader with an unflinching gaze, almost twins in both their looks and their emotions. The third sister is a pale white, as if she has been erased from a photograph. Her eyes are closed and we know she is the one who has been lost.

Even more intriguing than the cover is the opening of Frozen Beauty, which introduces us to the three sisters and some of the secrets they keep.

‘Frozen Beauty’ prologue

NOW

February 4

Secrets, secrets. Everyone had them. Everyone kept them from Lilly, kept her out.

This is what comes of curiosity, the wind whispered, hard and cold in her ear, swishing up into her skull. She shuddered. Snow soaked her boots.

As the youngest of three, this was the story of her life: this winter coldness, this left-out-ness, this butt-out-and-don’t-complain-or-you’ll-sound-like-a-whiny-baby-ness.

But here they were now: two glowing yellow headlights through the swirl of falling snow, through the blur of fading streetlights, through the dark of Route 28. Twin golden keys to the fucking treasure.

And she had to have it, she thought, her hands shaking — had to know the secret. Between Kit and Tessa, Lilly was always excluded from the things that really mattered. But this time, she would know, would force her way in. The warmth of the golden orbs called to her with some kind of dark, irrepressible magic, and there was so little magic in this world. Lilly only wanted her share.

It was a Saturday night. Lilly and Mel had been having their customary Saturday night sleepover at Mel’s house, which sat just on the edge of Devil’s Lake, the weeds and trees in her backyard giving way to the protected woods. Lilly had started to believe that their friendship was back on track. But when she’d awakened after midnight to find Mel gone, and the bedroom window cracked open, letting in a tiny but steady stream of frigid air, she’d had to assume the obvious: Mel had snuck out.

And if she had snuck out, it could only be for one reason: to meet up with Dusty, her on-again-off-again something. After all, Mel had been texting furiously all night, even during the rom-com sex scenes.

In a mix of disappointment and curiosity, Lilly had pushed open the bedroom door and crept down the quiet hall, past the den where all of Mel’s dad’s hunting rifles hung proudly in a row, polished and gleaming black even in the dark. Mel wasn’t in the house.

So, naturally, Lilly had slithered through the front door, into the slowly filling pocket of snow by the side of the house, then went in search of her friend — and answers. Maybe Dusty’s car would be parked around the corner of the cul-de-sac.

But what she’d found was a whole other kind of secret. Not more than the length of a football field down the main road sat a truck, its engine still going. Only yards from the edge of Mel’s property, if you cut through the woods.

And it wasn’t just any truck. The red truck. Boyd’s red truck. It was parked at the side of the road near the preserve, a hulking metal animal heaving its breath into the cold . . . and of course, her curiosity had snagged like a loose-knit sweater on a chain-link fence.

She felt that pull, that need to understand.

She reasoned: what if Boyd needed help, needed her?

A flash of doubt flooded Lilly’s brain for a minute. What if Mel had gotten back already and wondered where Lilly had gone?

No — Mel was with Dusty, she was sure of that much. Mel had chosen her loyalties.

Now: a male voice drifting out over the wind. The sound of a car door slamming. She was almost there, and the heat of discovery drove her on.

But it was so cold. So cold and so dark. The sparse streetlights did little to help, spinning patches of air into gold-hued snow blurs. She had to hurry.

Lilly scrunched her winter hat down lower. Still squinting, she made out a figure — no, two figures — floating from the shoulder of the road, toward the looming darkness of the woods that backed up to Devil’s Lake from Route 28.

Mel and Dusty?

Mel and Boyd?

Voices took clearer shape in the air as she got closer, though the words themselves wove and dodged and blew away. Holding her breath, hidden by the hounding snowfall and the heavy dark, she came all the way up to the driver’s side — the side facing the road — without the figures noticing. She peered through the window. The keys were still in the ignition, a faint silver clump dangling in shadow.

Shivering, she rounded the back of the truck, careful to stay hidden from view behind the glow of the taillights.

A guy and a girl, arguing.

Her heart hammered. She had to strain to see them in the bad light and the fierce snowfall, but she recognized Boyd by his height and his hunting hat. And the girl with him wasn’t Mel at all. . . .

She was unmistakable. She wore no hat, and her golden hair shone even in the darkness.

It was Kit.

Lilly took a step back. Was she being crazy right now? You didn’t just traipse along the road late at night by yourself, in the middle of a storm. She should head back. What was she thinking?

But then again, she could almost hear Tessa’s voice in her head: weren’t Boyd and Kit — the ever-trusted boy next door and the older sister everyone in school looked up to — up to something crazy, too? Tessa was always talking about likelihoods and hypotheses. Lilly wasn’t exactly a star at science, but you didn’t have to be a neurosurgeon to solve this equation: if you were those two and you were driving around in Boyd’s truck together on a Saturday night, in secret — you didn’t pull over in a storm, either. Not unless something was wrong. Not unless something was going on.

Secrets. Secrets.

Lilly watched from behind the truck as Boyd put his hand on Kit’s arm, and she shook, possibly crying.

Was he grabbing her now? Had she let him?

Slowly he pulled open her coat.

Lilly shuddered hard. Kit said something, but Lilly caught only snatches of her words: please and you’re making a mistake and I don’t believe you.

The racing of Lilly’s heart became a loud ringing through her ears and head. What was happening? Kit’s voice, dancing on the wind, seemed to ebb and peak and break.

Lilly trusted Boyd; of course, she did. Hell, she loved Boyd. But she also knew how angry he got sometimes. Once he’d shoved Tessa so hard she’d fallen into the gravel on the playground and torn open her shin. Then again, that had been right after Tessa kneed him in the balls. They were ten then, and nothing like that had happened since.

But still. Lilly remembered. Lilly always remembered.

She stood on the verge of calling to them when Kit got quiet, moving closer to Boyd. Then she was touching his face. And he was leaning down, and they were kissing — mist rising from where their faces met.

Hot breath in the cold night.

Oh.

So they weren’t fighting.

A flash of mortification.

Everyone was coupling off, hooking up, lying to Lilly about it.

Secrets, secrets.

She backed up toward the road, the thrill of voyeurism bursting suddenly into hot shame. A car rushed past her and honked.

She gasped, startled, realizing how easy it would have been to get hit.

Sweat tickled the back of her neck even in the freezing cold. Had the honk drawn Kit’s attention? The last thing she wanted was for Kit to think she’d been spying — which was, of course, exactly the truth. The last thing she needed was to give anyone more ammo for treating her like a fucking kid, one more reason to say butt out or I told you so.

Quickly, without looking back, she raced through the trees, taking the shortcut into Mel’s backyard. She couldn’t have been gone very long, but still. A person could die out here, on a night like this.

Icy pellets of snow blew into her eyes and Lilly could hardly see at all now — but that didn’t stop her from replaying the moment she had just witnessed over and over again: Boyd’s plaid hunting hat as he leaned down toward Kit’s face, and their lips met, and they kissed.

And above them, in the winter air all around them, the echo of Kit’s voice, saying please.

Later, long after she’d curled back onto her side of the trundle bed in Mel’s room — after she’d awakened the next morning to her friend lying beside her, softly snoring — Lilly would recall that word, please, and know for certain that it had been Kit’s final plea for her life. That if only she had stayed, or shouted, or called for help, maybe things would have gone differently.

Maybe her sister would still be alive.

More about ‘Frozen Beauty’

BEFORE
Everyone out in Devil’s Lake, Michigan, knows the three Malloy sisters: perfect big sister Kit; tomboy Tessa, who shares more with Kit than most people realize; and Lilly, the baby of the family, determined to make her own mark. Yet as close as they are, there are certain things sisters don’t tell one another. And one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out.

NOW
No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.

But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.

Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.

Later, long after she’d curled back into her side of the trundle bed in Mel’s room—after she’d awoken the next morning to her friend lying beside her, softly snoring—Lilly would recall that word, please, and know for certain that it had been Kit’s final plea for her life. That if only she had stayed, or shouted, or called for help, maybe things would have gone differently.

Maybe her sister would still be alive.

Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer hits store shelves on March 17, 2020. You can pre-order it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Book Depository, or add it to your Goodreads list.

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