Tuesday, January 31, 2012


My recommendation of the month is a very intriguing book called The Ice Queen, by Alice Hoffman. This book is one of those that caught my eye because of the cover, and I was rewarded with a fascinating story inside.

In a moment of rage our (nameless) heroine wishes for something truly awful, and her wish comes true. Guilt ridden, the heroine believes herself to have some kind of power over life and death, and lives her life pushing others away, preferring to spend time with books instead of people, and imagining herself as a creature of ice. The antisocial librarian has become so completely obsessed with death that she soon becomes an expert, and consults with a member of the local Police Department on all manner of cause and consequence of death. As you would imagine this type of lifestyle is quite depressing. Our heroine continues to live in this frozen emotional state until her concerned brother has enough of her isolating lifestyle, and insists that she move to Florida to be near him and his wife.

Uttering an idle wish to be struck by lightning, the heroine’s wish is granted, but does not leave her dead. Suffering several physical effects from the lightning strike she begins a new journey in life when she becomes part of a University research project and befriends other members of the “struck by lightning group”. I always love when a book teaches me something in addition to entertaining me, and The Ice Queen describes all kinds of effects a lightning strike can have on the human body. Amongst other things, our heroine (now with a fitting scar over her heart) loses the ability to see the colour red and has a clicking sound in her head. She soon finds herself drawn to a mysterious fellow survivor known as Lazarus (because he came back to life in the mortuary), whose breath is so hot that he can set paper on fire. They soon begin a passionate and obsessive love affair: a woman of ice and a man of fire.  Do opposites truly attract, or do they actually repel each other? Can fiery heat melt a heart of ice?  The answer is not quite as obvious or straightforward as you would think.

The Ice Queen is a fascinating read for several reasons. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be “different”. This book is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. It is quite dark and intense, but instead of being gloomy, as one would expect, the core of it all is actually light – hope, peace and love; in true Hoffman tradition, I would even call it magical. Alice Hoffman’s unique story weaved in between fact, fiction, fairytales, legends and myths, along with her beautiful command over prose kept me hooked and invested until the very end. I am certain it will do the same for you.

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