March 9, 2013

Icefall - by Matthew J. Kirby

If you were a Viking princess (and I assume you are not), and your father the king was fighting a war and wanted to keep you and your siblings safe, he just might send you to a remote frozen island just like Solveig's dad sent her to.  Two princesses and the crown prince must wait out the winter with a troop of brave but bored soldiers to guard them, and nothing but a glacier to keep them company.

Yes, it's an exciting-looking cover, and when I started reading this story I was a bit disappointed by the lack of action, the slow pace, and the deep character studies.  It turns out I just had to wait a little while, and the action picked up, made all the more thrilling by the information I had learned during those early chapters.

When I say it's thrilling, I should also mention the intense mystery. Someone trapped on the island is a traitor, but nobody can figure out who.  Before long, everyone suspects everyone else, adding to the excitement and suspense.  The end is powerful and unexpected, just as you may suspect from a Viking girl-power historical mystery drama.

Perhaps the best part isn't even the plot, but the author's amazing use of language.  It reads almost like poetry, or perhaps like the tale told by an ancient Viking bard.  This is a great book for anyone who likes storytelling, Vikings, exceptionally brave girls who have been underestimated, and large stinky nordic soldiers.

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