Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

I just finished an audiobook reading of The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman. All I can say is wow.

This is the first book since Find Me by Carol O'Connell that made me cry, yet I never felt that the author was manipulating my emotions (which is, perhaps, why I was able to let go, since the pathos was so subtle and crept up on me that I wasn't prepared).

The entire book was dark, and for at least half of it I disliked the unnamed female narrator/protagonist who was whiny and self-absorbed to the point of cruelty. Through this part of the book, she remains entrenched in the childhood belief of magical thinking, where everything that happens is all about her, a misconception that I myself have to struggle against, even now in my sixth decade.

The last half of the book details her redemption. This part was so powerful and intense that I was left literally breathless and, as I said, I actually found myself sobbing at times. It is a story of a woman who, after a terrible tragedy in her childhood that she believes she caused, retreats into a place deep inside herself that is cold and isolated from humanity and love. From that icy depth she exists, all the while trying to make sense of Death. It is only when she is struck by lightening and survives that she begins to thaw and ends up making sense of Life.

This is a book I am sure I'm going to reread again, it is that good.


Shana said...

Mary K. I've never read Alice Hoffman but would really like to give her a try. This sounds like a fantastic book. Have you read anything else by her you liked better than this one? Did you like the narrator of the audiobook?


Mary K. from L.A. said...

Hi, Shana ~ Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

The reader was annoying at first, but I think that was because she was in character, and at the start of the story the character was a whiny twit. After a short while, though, I began to enjoy the reader's voice.

I only read one other thing by Hoffman ~ "The Foretelling," a YA novel about the last of the Amazon queens. I enjoyed it too, although I think I liked "The Ice Queen" better. Both were good, though.

Like Allende, she writes magical realism. In fact, she wrote "Practical Magic," which will be the next book I read by her.