Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic Press NY)

20 Jan

IcefallIcefall is an exemplary original Norse tale. It is a highly recommended psychological thriller, set on an icy piece of land which is bordered by the impassable mountains and the frozen winter sea. The young heir, Harald, and his two Norse princess sisters have been sent to this harsh place for safety by their father, the King, but things start to go wrong and it seems that their sanctuary has been infiltrated by an enemy. The king had sent them with a small team of guards and his bezerkers arrive just before the ice freezes for the winter, so there are multiple suspects even within their own group, let alone outsiders. A skald, Alric, arrives with the bezerkers and he sees talent in Solveig, the second and overlooked sibling, as a bard. He begins her training, where her background as a storyteller helps her because she is familiar with many of the old Norse tales about Loki, Asgard and Odin. When her goat, Hilda, is killed by the bezerker leader, Hake, he tries to makes amends by giving her a raven and its presence on her shoulder while weaving her stories gives her confidence and authority. Solveig is a very well-drawn character, whose doubts about her place in her father’s affections and about her ability; position this book above being simply being a riveting story. As soon as it is available in paperback it would be an excellent class novel or title for literature circles for both boys and girls in middle school. In the meantime, libraries and homes must have it.

by Joy Lawn, Children’s Literature Consultant

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