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Great Illustrated Books

Icefall

By Matthew J. Kirby

Scholastic Press, 2011
Pages : 336
Suggested Ages: 9-12
ISBN: 9780545274241

Asa, Solvieg, and Harold are spending their winter tucked away in a hidden fjord, while their father, the king, leads the war back home. While they are reluctant to leave him to live in this desolate icy land, they are grateful to be safe and protected. However, when many of the warriors sent to protect them start to show signs of poisoning, they all realize they are trapped sharing their camp, sharing their warm fire, and rationing their limited food, with a traitor. No one escapes suspicion, but in order to survive, they must continue to work together, and they have no choice but to wait and see when the full force of this traitor’s deception will strike.

Tension runs rampant as supplies dwindle, sickness persists and the warriors begin to die. The betrayer remains a mystery. Each possibility seems as unlikely as the next. Asa, the beautiful princess is scandalously in love with Per, a courageous fighter. But, princesses are supposed to have arranged marriages with other nobility, not with lower-class fighters. What lengths would Asa and Per go to to protect their forbidden love and stay together? Hake, leader of the warriors, nearly kills another man when a fit of rage overtakes him. He has the capacity to harm others, but does he have malicious intentions? And Alric, the Skald (royal storyteller), is not powerful physically, but is able to change the mindset of a group with a simple story. Can he be trusted to use his power to manipulate people for the good of all? Where do everyone’s loyalties truly lie?

And Solveig may not be beautiful like her sister or heir to the throne like her brother, but she is perceptive and has the ability to captivate an audience, shift their mood, and lift their spirits. Solveig trains with Alric to capitalize on this talent in order to become a Skald. She will have to summon all her strength and master her new skills to get through to the warriors, outsmart their betrayer, protect her beloved siblings, and find herself along the way.

Icefall has a quiet, threatening, suspenseful feel throughout, like the eerie creaking of ice melting. It is riveting. There are wonderful Norse mythological references and great lessons about learning to trust in one’s own ability and doing the right thing. Your reader will cheer, gasp, and probably feel a chill from time to time and will close the book and say, “I loved it!”

Reviewed by : MES

Themes : SUSPENSE. MURDER. SELF-CONFIDENCE. SUPERNATURAL.

If you love this book, then try:

Riordan, Rick. The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus series). Hyperion, 2010.



Stroud, Jonathan. The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy series). Miramax/Hyperion, 2003.



Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials series). Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1996.



Paolini, Christopher. Eragon (Inheritance Cycle series). Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2003.

Critics have said

Interesting, well-developed characters abound, and Solveig's strong narrative voice adds authenticity as she grows into her new role, not just telling stories of the mythical Scandinavian past but creating tales to alter the behavior of those around her.
Kirkus Reviews


Kirby turns in a claustrophobic, thought-provoking coming-of-age adventure that shows a young woman growing into her own,while demonstrating the power of myth and legend.
Publishers Weekly