A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{June 23, 2011}   Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

Plot: Solveig and her siblings are trapped in a small holding in a frozen fjord while their father, the king, wages war. They were sent for their protection but their temporary home may not as safe as they hoped: food supplies are short, conditions are harsh and there is a traitor in their midst. Solveig is no heir like her brother Harald nor a beauty like her sister Asa but she has a strength all her own. Her words may be all that stand between them and complete destruction.

This review is based on an Advanced Reader’s Copy received at Book Expo America.

I loved this book. It is a truly engrossing and suspenseful historical novel starring a cast of complex and believable characters, the most notable being Solveig herself and Heke the beserker captain. I became truly invested in Solveig’s world. I cried (even reading in public, I couldn’t keep from crying), I worried and I felt betrayed along with her. Kirby perfectly captures Norse culture in the little details of their lives and the beliefs and values that define them.

Best of all, Kirby makes brilliant use of storytelling. During the long winter months, the King’s skald teaches Solveig his craft. She tells beautiful stories of the Norse gods and of her life to help her companions make it through some very difficult times and Kirby weaves these stories skillfully into the frame narrative.

The book has a good, definitive ending but if Kirby is willing to write more stories of Solveig’s life, I will be first in line to buy them.

Icefall will be released by Scholastic in October 2011.

Challenges: YA Historical Challenge (9)


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