Monday, January 25, 2010

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

By far one of the most powerfully moving books I've ready in a while, The Ice Queen combines a captivating narrative style with a unique and emotional story that pulls the ready in and holds them rapt throughout the novel.

Our narrator has no name but she's a woman, sister, and lover. She believes her wishes can kill and she has closed her heart to all emotion. She is the ice queen...until she's struck by lightning. The strike deprives her of simple things she never knew she'd miss. This deprivation begins melting her heart of ice and she travels slowly back to place where it's okay to feel - both the good and the bad - where her wishes don't hurt anyone anymore.

The most interesting aspect of Hoffman's writing style in this books is the level of uncertainty it imbues. Say you don't believe in magic - you read this story and you just can't believe a person's wishes can have any real affect. There's enough reality laced within the magic of the story where it's entirely plausible to blame circumstantial evidence on our narrator's delusions. Yet, there's a lot a lot of magic just sitting throughout the story for those with a more mystical mind to grab. Hoffman never tells you which it really is; the choice is up to you. Truth is, fantastical things are out there and they don't have to have an explanation. You have to decide what you believe in, and it's nice to see this truth mirrored in the story.

Through death, love, loneliness, pain, pleasure, and the varied side effects of surviving a lightning strike, Hoffman weaves the tale of one woman's journey to learn how much basic things in life will be missed when you give them up and how great it feels once you allow them to return.

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