Thursday, October 20, 2011

Icefall review

Description: Matthew J. Kirby, author of THE CLOCKWORK THREE, deftly weaves a brand-new tale with chilling cleverness and subtle suspense that will leave readers racing breathlessly to the end.
Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig, along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father's victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, and a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

Those charged with protecting the king's children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father's watchful eye? Can Solveig and her siblings survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he succeeds in destroying a kingdom?

My thoughts: This is the middle grade story I've been searching for! Ever since finishing the Percy Jackson series, I’d been excited about finding some other middle grade level books. Unfortunately no MG book I've read since seemed to appeal to me. It's partly why I've avoided reviewing any as of late. This is until Icefall. Had I initially known it wasn't YA I probably wouldn’t have been interested in it. Fortunately I didn't know and was able to start Icefall without any negative preconceived notions. So now when I think of the middle grade books I love, I can add Icefall with my Percy Jackson and Series of Unfortunate Events (and a Wrinkle in Time, etc) type books.

One thing I love about any book at any level is when the author makes me forget that it's supposed 
to be geared toward a specific group. For instance, A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms never 
screamed adult. Daughter of Smoke and Bone never seemed like a young adult book. 
And Icefall clearly isn’t just appealing to 11 and 12 year olds.

There was something magical about every aspect of this book. From the well thought out 
characters to the haunting setting that was filled with foreshadowing. Not to mention the 
writing. It was prolific, it was wise, to the point that I was amazed by how the story was 
told better than a lot of YA books. On top of all this it included one of my favorite topics, 
mythology. In this case it was Norse mythology, which I've been intrigued with ever since 
I first started reading the Thor comics.

This wonderful combination of elements made for a page-turner. And it ended with me closing the 
book with a huge smile on my face. Hopefully this new excitement for middle grade level books 
will continue!

Additional note: I loved Solveig’s relationship with Hake! He was somewhere in between a father figure and a friend for her. And as weird as it could have been, I got the feeling that had she been older and him younger, their relationship may have been something more. What made Hake even better was that due to a mixture of my own imagination and the book’s description of Hake, I pictured him as looking a bit like Wrath from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And anybody who knows anything about this series knows how appealing that is *winks*.
Also, Alric, the storyteller and keeper of legends had so many words of wisdom. And he was such an important part of Solveig’s development. As she said herself,  “he found me and led me to myself.”

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