Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

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Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: An intensely romantic fantasy on the ice with a kick ass heroine who must suffer before she can understand the true meaning of love. It's a delight to read, but perhaps more of a passing fancy than one to keep.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: October 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 1847386571

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Cassie lives on an Arctic research station in Alaska. She loves the ice and the wilderness of her remote home and she'd definitely prefer to spend her time on tracking polar bears and fending off frostbite rather than on mixing with her peers and enjoying college and home comforts back in Fairbanks. However, things aren't all rosy. Cassie's mother died when she was just a baby and she can't help feeling a huge hole in her heart. Her scientist father is remote and unloving and her grandmother left the station after an argument with him when Cassie was still very young.

Cassie remembers the tale she used to tell - that her mother had made a bargain with the Polar Bear King, that it had gone spectacularly wrong, and that she'd been swept away to the ends of the Earth to become a prisoner of the trolls. At seventeen, Cassie knows it was just a pretty way of telling her that her mother was dead and wasn't coming back and she is managing to deal with the hollowness. But when she comes face to face with the biggest polar bear anyone at the station has ever seen, and when she sees her father's reaction to it, she begins to realise that the pretty story might, just might be true.

And so Cassie makes her own bargain with the Polar Bear King.

Ice is an intensely romantic fantasy, set in the harsh but equally romantic snow and ice of the Arctic, and with a whole host of Norse and Inuit mythological figures and tropes. It's the oldest of stories - the journey of the central character to come to the understanding that love and sacrifice can redeem us all. But it has plenty of modernity about it too. Cassie may be adventuring amongst characters of myth and legend, but she's a very contemporary heroine, not above a bit of badasskicking action - even towards the very Father of the Forest himself. Meek she is most certainly not. She also inhabits an emotional landscape immediately recognisable to her teen readers - she's impulsive, hot-tempered and sharp-tongued when she wants to be. And she makes mistakes only too see them when it's too late. Picaresque tales suit this readership and they do add to the romanticism of it all.

The underlying themes are of nature and the cycle of life, of grief and loss, and most importantly of the true and life-changing nature of love. But it's not overdone, and the biggest thing readers will take away from it is a sweet and romantic love story of girl meets boy, overcomes obstacles and finds what she was looking for all along, if only she'd known it. It's a delight to read, but perhaps is more of a passing fancy than a book to keep for all but the most diehard of romantics.

My thanks to the nice people at Simon & Schuster for sending the book.

If they enjoyed Ice, they'll also fall in love with the highly-charged Angel by Cliff McNish. Knife by R J Anderson has a heroine who must learn that love and sacrifice can redeem us all. The West Wind makes an appearance in the unsettling The Ghost's Child by Sonya Hartnett.

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Buy Ice by Sarah Beth Durst at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ice by Sarah Beth Durst at


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