Book Review: Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

Long rant ahead. You can skip to the fifth paragraph for the actual book review.

Yesterday was the start of our week-long university days wherein students, faculty members, staffs and the administration celebrate both the foundation of our beloved university and holding this year’s Intramurals. So I told my mom that I needed to be at the opening that was held yesterday because we were required to. And, oh, the sweet sweet temptation of those trivial incentives given by professors that just lure many introverted Accounting students into getting out of the house and participate on school activities. The desperation to lift their grades is real, I tell you. And right now, I need every millimeter of lift I can get.

And while that does hold true, it is not really my main goal of the day. My plan for yesterday was to stay at the Uni the whole day for two main purposes: 1) have an allowance for the day (I’m a student with no other source of income so you can’t blame me) and 2) study at the library (because there are just tons of distractions at home–a.k.a Internet). But the moment the opening was finished and I was at the library, I realized that there were very few people inside. And most of them are either sleeping or talking with their friends. Of course, no one was going to study. It’s the university days. Who would spend a week-long break from stressful classes just to study? (No, Squidward, don’t point at me.)

So what did I do? Wait for someone else to take out their books and study. And what did I do to not get bored? Well, well, well. I was at the library and it’s been so long since I hang out there (unlike last year when I spent every break time cozied up on the oh-so-comfortable couch sleeping). So I took a random novel and read. I thought to myself that I was going to stop reading once I see someone study already.

But, as expected, I did not stop. I think it only took me less than 5 hours to finish this book and it was fantastic (*mumbles* unlike our financial accounting book. Hmph.) So anyway, here’s the actual review for those who skipped all that unnecessary introductory rant.

From Goodreads: Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig, along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father’s victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, and a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another. Those charged with protecting the king’s children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father’s watchful eye? Can Solveig and her siblings survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he succeeds in destroying a kingdom?

I was promised with a story filled with adventure and subtle suspense. And while, it didn’t hold to the former, it certainly had a gritty sense to it that you don’t usually see in a YA novel. Icefall kind of reminded me of Winter’s Bone in the sense that they both occur mostly during winter, they both have strong female protagonists, and they are not your ordinary YA literature. I love it. And I suppose, being able to finish it in one sitting proves just how much I was engaged by the story.

I simply loved all the characters but the one I really felt connected was Solveig and Hake. They both tugged into the emotional strings inside me. Solveig was determined, strong and compassionate. Hake was this big man with a very soft heart. And the relationship that they have was simply too raw and too real. It was wonderful. Then there’s Harald, who is so adorable and innocent that he reminds me so much of my own brother.

The identity of the traitor was kind of predictable and to me, the story behind the treachery was too soft with the entire novel. It felt too cliche for a novel with such a strong main character and such a wonderful setting. And it messed up the plot for me–though, not enough. And while this is advertised for middle grade, I don’t think there will be middle-schoolers who will read this. Unless, they have interest in reading Historical fiction loosely based in Norse mythology.

Overall, Icefall was a wonderful read. And I extremely loved that while it is all about the Medieval Nordic life and a little about Norse mythology, its main theme is about the power of stories. Which, really, I think all of us readers and the talented writers of wonderful tales can totally relate to.



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