The Ice Twins by SK Tremayne
|The Ice Twins by SK Tremayne|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: An incredibly tense, exciting psychological thriller that keeps us guessing, the ultimate twists appearing in the last few pages. Definitely an I-don't-believe-it's-a-debut debut.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: January 2015|
Angus inherits a Scottish island from his grandmother that holds fond memories from his childhood. Although it's totally remote Angus, his wife Sarah and daughter Kirstie decide to move there from London. Yes, daughter singular but they haven't always only had the one child. Kirstie used to have a twin, Lydia, till 13 months ago. Lydia died in a tragic accident, the circumstances of which have never fully been revealed. At least everyone believes it was Lydia who died but what if…?
At this stage in my review I'll usually regale you with a little about the author, whether you want to be regaled or not. In this case it will only be a smidgeon of a regale because, as I write this, SK Tremayne's identity is a secret. What we do know is that he/she is an established travel writer, born in Devon, the parent of two daughters and his/her name isn't SK Tremayne. However whoever they are, they can definitely write!
From the book blurb our initial thoughts may be that the story could go one of only two ways but this is an underestimation of SK's deliciously twisted, talented imagination; it's way more complex than that. Not only are we kept guessing about the events of the twin's death till beyond where we think we know, we only find out the story will end on the last page. Indeed the author plays with any perceptions that we may have and proves to us a few times that we don't have the vaguest clue of what will happen.
The bedrock of this amazement of twists is the characterisation. As we read Angus and Sarah's alternating (third person narrative) chapters we see parents still trying to come to terms with a tragic death while seeing the image of their bereavement on a daily basis in her identical twin. There's already a layer of subtle mistrust in their marriage that prevents therapeutic closeness and shared, deep discussion. With total trust between them the premature drive for normality would be difficult; without it? Wait and see!
The narrative also changes, closely following their emotional journey; SK not only proves that he/she can develop this couple; we hear the development that the ongoing circumstances cause. (No spoilers!)
SK has also done his/her research regarding the results of loss on the remaining twin. The moment when we follow Sarah into her child's school and discover a quaking child hiding it all feels heartbreakingly real. Then when it takes a subtle, believable supernatural direction I just wanted to hug the little lass. Ok, I have a minor niggle about the professionalism of the child psych Sarah consults and his comments during a phone consultation. However, this moment adds so much to later events that if there was ever a time when literary license were permissible, this would be it.
By the way, there are reasons I haven't named the twins (other than at the beginning). It’s the desperation of avoiding spoilers and not trusting myself to go there! Yes this is one of those novels after which you desperately want to find someone else who's read it so you can talk about it. The broken lives, secrets, guilt and blame drip like nitro-glycerine onto the developing creepiness until the final explosion justifies the fact that we haven't been able to put the book down. Oh yes, whoever you are, SK, this is superlative stuff!
(Thank you so much Harper Collins for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you like your psychological thrillers to be totally gripping, we definitely recommend The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian.
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