Ice Maiden by Sally Prue

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Ice Maiden by Sally Prue

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fabulous prequel to the award-winning Cold Tom. Prue's fairy/elf Tribe are cold-hearted beings but searingly beautiful when compared to lumpen demons/humans. But sometimes two lonely people are drawn together, no matter what.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: February 2011
Publisher: OUP Oxford
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0192729659

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Franz isn't popular in the village. It's 1939, and the German boy is on an extended holiday in England. Unsurprisingly, the local boys don't appreciate an enemy in their midst. Franz isn't happy at home either - he mistrusts his Nazi parents and he remembers the rounding up of the disabled, the gypsies and the Jews, and the smashing glass at night. Lonely, Franz spends a lot of time on the common, observing the natural world and the wildlife, in all its beauty and cruelty.

And on the common, someone watches him, filled with hate and disgust, but also with an indescribable hunger. Edrin is of the Tribe. She is fierce and beautiful, a huntress. She worships the stars and she detests the foul, lumpen, crashing demons. Yet somehow, she can't stop watching this demon calf, this Franz, the only human with no slave vines of love and friendship shooting out from him to enslave and bewitch others. Edrin can't imagine anything worse than the slave vines, but she too is alone - hated by the murderous Sia who sees her as a potential competitor for Larn's affections.

Sometimes, two lonely people are drawn together, no matter what.

Ice Maiden is the prequel to Sally Prue's award-winning Cold Tom, a reimagining of the folk legend of Tam Lin, the human man tempted by an elvish queen. It's a beautiful book and if you haven't read it yet, you should get hold of a copy right away. Prue's Tribe are fierce, ruthless and cruel, but they are also beautiful and delicate, living with a clarity that humans can never manage, bound as they are by their ties - slave vines - of love and commitment to others. Compared to these creatures, humans are rough, crude, ugly, coarse. The stars would never accept them.

The book is about exclusion and otherness, and about the ties that bind us. Franz isn't like other humans. He has no ties. His experiences in Berlin have made him mistrust everyone, even his parents. And Edrin, if only she knew it, isn't like others in the Tribe. She hungers for something that isn't food and her Tribe has rejected her. Each fulfills a need in the other.

It's written with a beautiful clarity and some wonderful imagery and even though there are real conflicts in real relationships to be sorted out, Ice Maiden reads like a dream sequence really. There's a perfect balance between the otherworldly and emotional landscapes. I always wanted to see where the story of Cold Tom began, and now I have. And it was lovely.

My thanks to the good people at OUP for sending the book.

If Ice Maiden appeals to them, they might also enjoy Knife by R J Anderson, which has a very different view of the ties between humans and faeries. Wings by Aprilynne Pike taps more into the contemporary supernatural romance genre, but it deals with the tropes marvellously. Older children will love Firebrand by Gillian Philip, whose Sidhe are as fierce and forbidding as Prue's Tribe.

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