Book Review: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: 6 October 2009
Genre:  YA/New Adult, Paranormal Romance
Format:  Paperback
Page Count:  336
Source: Library
Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Author website

4 of 5 hearts

This novel is based on a lesser-known Norwegian fairy tale, and though I’d never heard of the tale before, this retelling was wonderfully imagined. I can’t say how much is Durst’s imagination, because it’s based on something else already.

Ice is a novel not without its flaws: to me, it promotes bestiality, domestication of women, Stockholm syndrome, and the disturbing fallout from Twilight’s bland Bella’s grand ambitions: to give up a promising future and be nothing more than a wife and mother.

However, I did enjoy this novel. Cassie, our eighteen year old heroine (so above the age of consent) is independent, wilful, and brave to the point of insanity. She starts out absolutely wonderfully: chasing after a polar bear on the ice for her own ambitions, joy, entertainment and education. She follows through by sacrificing herself to save her mother – although she doesn’t at first grasp what exactly is required of her. When her new husband reveals his grand plans, she rightfully demands to be let go.

Curiously, it’s when she’s separated from her husband that she yearns to return to her more ‘exciting life’ – one of dancing in frozen ballrooms, eating delicious food and sleeping chastely in the same bed as her husband. Cassie actually thinks this life of no ambition – trapped in an ice castle while her husband works away from home, essentially – is more thrilling than any future her human family can provide: family, friends, a future college and a better than average chance of running her own research station in the Arctic.

So as you can see, I did have some issues with Cassie.

But Cassie is also insanely brave and incredibly resourceful. She manipulates people to get what she needs, and she had a single-minded wilfulness to get what she wants. Despite an ever-growing hurdle against her own body, Cassie manages to do what no one else has been capable of doing: rescuing someone from the troll castle. It’s breathtaking, to look back on the novel and see Cassie’s will, her grand ambition played out, and the mastery of manipulating others, even if it tries her own patience. She fearlessly takes on characters other are terrified of, and puts her own self at risk over and over to achieve her incredible goals. In a away, her loyalty to her husband is the most amazing thing to come out of this book, even at the expense of other things that are precious to her: her family, her friends, her future.

Durst is a fine writer. Her descriptions are lush and cinematic, and her dialogue is believable – if you find a talking polar bear believable, that is. However, the locations work against the novel: there’s only so many ways you can describe ice and snow. When I first started the novel, it wasn’t difficult to put it down and go about my daily life. Not that it was bad in these instances – in fact, the more I read of this novel the more awesome it became. It took until close to halfway when I realised I didn’t want to put it down, and the last quarter of the novel I simply devoured, desperate to know more.

If you like fairytale retellings, you’ll probably like this. If you like romance novels, you’ll probably also like this. I didn’t particularly like seeing Cassie go from career-woman to housewife but that’s just me. The novel, apart from that flaw, was still very good. It entertained me, made me laugh and cry. I am glad I read it and if it sounds like your thing, I hope you enjoy it as well.

PS – just LOOK at this German cover. Isn’t is absolutely beautiful?

View all my reviews


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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