What is it lately with books that make me sit up and go, “Holy crap!”
I don’t mean to pick them out. Okay, maybe that’s a lie. I knew The Color Of My Words would make me cry; The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven always gives me emotional trauma (in a good way!).
And I’ve read Alice Hoffman before; she is not for the faint of heart.
The last book I read by Hoffman was The Foretelling, after which I remember thinking maybe this author wasn’t for me. She wrote Practical Magic, which was made into a very cool movie that I still love and watch on a semi-regular basis. But I didn’t love the book.
So when The Ice Queen caught my eye at a local second-hand book shop, I hesitantly picked it up, unsure whether or not I should set it right back down. The back of the book intrigued me as it told an abbreviated tale of a woman who gets struck by lightning. Interesting.
I carried the book around for a few minutes, then let it sit on my shelf for months. Now, with my resolve to get through all these books I haven’t read, I picked it up last week and couldn’t set it down.
The themes of The Ice Queen range from truth and love to coming of age far beyond the teenage years. All of the characters have depth and interest, even the ones that at first seem flat and secondary. As I raced through the novel, each secret I uncovered was actually a surprise, a relief after another novel I’m reading that is unfolding exactly the way I expected.
The plot revolves around the woman (who, at the end of the book, I realized had not revealed her name) who learns at an early age that a wish can have very powerful repercussions. Later in life, she makes another wish, to be struck by lightning.
That wish leads her into twisted relationships with the people around her and a deeper understanding of the good things that had been in her life before the strike.
I wouldn’t describe the book as fantasy, but there is a sense of the unreal combined with deep truths about human nature. And I certainly admit enjoying the Grimm versus Anderson debate that followed the story. [After reading this book, I plan to add those anthologies to my list of childhood favorites to reread. I wonder if now that I no longer carry the happily ever after fantasy in my pocket like a token, if I will like the original Grimm tales more than I did as a child. I used to gravitate heavily toward Anderson.]
The sharp details, the craft of the story wound around this woman and the intensity of emotion made me more inspired than ever to explore that side of my writing.