Tuesday 19 January 2010

5) The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

Pages - 211

Published by Vintage 2006

Challenges - What's In A Name 3 Challenge

Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things. They burn you tongue the moment they're spoken and you can never take them back. They bruise and bake and come back to haunt you.

The story begins with a little girl, making a wish she couldn't take back. Once her wish came true, her life was never the same again. She grows up with a heart touched by ice; never letting anyone come close enough to love her or allowing herself to love them back. Her life is non existent until a highly unlikely accident changes her life.

She is struck by lightening which affects so many parts of her body. The most noticeable is her inability to see the colour red, which makes everything have that white, snowy look about it. The lightening changes her life forever and results in her beginning a relationship with Lazarus Jones, a fellow lightening survivor who had died and come back to life. He is hot to touch and can boil water with his mouth, a suitable love match for an Ice Queen.

This was a really unusual story and had me searching for more information about lightening survivors. I had never considered the affects of lightening on people, but it seems to cause different reactions amongst it survivors. It never occurred to me how many different types of lightening existed either.

The story is very subtle and has a lovely fairytale feel to it. There are aspects to it, which make you feel like you have stepped back into your childhood. The natural elements that have caused the main character to appear like an Ice Queen are well written; the fact that she feels like her heart has ice in, as she feels responsible for other mother's death; the fact that everything looks like ice and snow to her because of her inability to see red anymore. She does come across as an Ice Queen who can no longer feel emotion for the people close to her. The character Lazarus, almost have a comic hero feel about him, where by a natural occurrence has left him with special powers. His ability to heat everything up, caused by the chemical reaction in his body,when they tried to bring him back to life just sounds surreal.

The main character of the book who is never named, comes across as hard and I found it difficult to warm to her at first. Her life has such limited boundaries as she has no idea our to interact with others and let them into her life. I kept wanting to stand behind her and give her a big push out into the world, so she could experience it. Lazarus is the first person that she has ever felt any emotion for. By the end of the book, as her sight returns to normal, you see her begin to thaw and realise that she does love the people who surround her.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than the last Hoffman one I read which was Skylight Confessions; the storyline was definitely more interesting and kept me engrossed until the end. I was rooting all the way through for the main character to actually feel the ability to love. The writing was beautiful, with Hoffman's vivid descriptions leaving an imprint in my heart.

The only thing I didn't like was the lack of love within the book. In both of Hoffman's books I have felt that her characters struggle to show any kind of emotion, which makes them appear cold, heartless and difficult to like for the majority of each story. This is obviously part of Hoffman's writing style, where her characters struggle to show emotion and that is fine, it just makes it difficult for me to feel anything for her characters. I really do want to love her books, as she brought the world my favourite film ever, 'Practical Magic, yet I am not feeling it. At least in this book, there was a happy ending and the main character learnt to love again and I did enjoy it a whole lot more than the first one I read. I just really want to love her work and I am struggling; so some more suggestions would be good as I refuse to give up on my quest.

Other reviews of this book.

Trish's Reading Nook

Things Mean Alot

Life And Times of a 'New' New Yorker.


  1. This is the only book of hers I've read and I have to admit I really struggled with it. I haven't been inspired to search out any more of hers because of that. Strange as I also love the film Practical Magic.

  2. Didn't know about the movie.
    Hm, perhaps I should read this, is it for me, must see

  3. The premise sounds interesting, but I'm not sure it's a book for me.

  4. I think you're right - Hoffman's characters are usually pretty cold, but I still love her books. This one sounds really good.

  5. Carmen - we really do think alike.

    Blodeuedd - you must see Practical Magic,it is fabulous.

    Beth - it won't suit everyone.

    Bermudaonion - I am glad it isn't just me that thinks her characters are cold. I thought perhaps I was in a minority.

  6. Nice review Viv. I read this one a long time ago so I can't really remember a lot of it. I do like Hoffman's writing style although there have been a few of her books that just didn't do it for me.

  7. It is hard for me, too, to read books in which the characters are hard to sympathize with. Glad you liked other aspects of this one, though.

  8. I have yet to read a Hoffman book but I see so many reviews on her work, I think I should probably give her a go. This one sounds interesting. Which would do you recommend I start with? :)

  9. Dar - sorry to hear you have had a few bad ones too.

    Aarti - I enjoyed it a lot more than the first one.

    Ceri- I would probably go with Practical Magic, as the film is fantastic.

  10. I've heard good things about this author, and your review convinces me that I should read one of her books (not necessarily this one). Thanks for your review.

  11. It sounds almost like X men but with lightening. This would definitely be a book that would stretch my normal reading.

  12. This is one Hoffman book I don't have, although for awhile, I thought I did! (Huge TBR stacks, which I've subsequently organized and documented on a Works file).

    Sounds intriguing...

  13. I think I have this book on my shelf, at least I hope I do. I stopped reading your review because I wanted to be surprised. Still your first couple of paragraphs completely pulled me in.

  14. Bummer! This is one I've been wanting to read but haven't had time. I agree that the movie, Practical Magic, was excellent!

  15. Hi, Vivienne! I haven't read a novel by Alice Hoffman yet, and this sounds as the perfect novel to start with. Thanks for your review!

  16. I'm not sure what to suggest. All of the Alice Hoffman novels I've read were read a few years back and I can't recall any of them in great detail. I worry that I'll suggest another and you'll have the same problem with it. I don't remember having those problems when I read the Ice Queen!

    Also, I would have never even considered researching the effects on lightning survivors! Honestly, reading that made me stop and think 'hey! why did I never think of that?!' and now it sounds so obvious..

  17. Suko - go with Practical Magic.

    Alice - I kept thinking of Heroes the TV series as I read it.

    Laurel - does this mean you will have to buy this one now too.LOL.

    Christina - I hope you enjoy it.

    J.Kaye - Practical Magic is the best film ever!!!According to me anyway.

    Peter - I hope you enjoy it.

    Clover - don't worry, I am going to go with Practical Magic next as I haven't ever read the book.

    I couldn't help but find the lightening effects intriguing. That is just the geeky me coming out.

  18. I really loved this book. I can see your point about the coldness, but I thought that underneath it all there was love too.

  19. I'm with you on loving the Practical Magic movie but I dont think this book is for me. Hope you find one of her books you can wholeheartedly love!

  20. I read this one a long time ago. I really liked it though. It was before I was blogging. I agree with Nymeth. I saw love through all the cold. I think it is in the perception you bring as a reader. Maybe I project too much. I hope you find something of hers that you enjoy. But, if not that's ok too. :)

  21. This is my favorite Alice Hoffman book, like you I searched for information about lightning survivors after reading it.
    Perfectly said, Lazarus was like a comic book hero in some ways.
    The other book I read by her is Practical Magic. The thing I enjoy most about her work is the writing, its beautiful
    Great review.

  22. Thanks for the review, Viv! I have this in my TBR together with SKYLIGHT CONFESSIONS. Need to read this soon because it sounds so good!


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