Mathew J. Kirby
Ages 8 - 12
Winner of the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Fiction
Critically acclaimed author Matthew J. Kirby deftly weaves a stunning coming-of-age tale with chilling cleverness and subtle suspense that will leave readers racing breathlessly to the end.
Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig--along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors--anxiously awaits news of her father's victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. Solveig must also embark on a journey to find her own path. Yet, a malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, as a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.
Those charged with protecting the king's children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father's watchful eye? Can Solveig survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he manages to destroy a kingdom?
I really thought Icefall was a fantasy novel. So I kept waiting for something magical to happen, but it never did. So it took me a while to accept that this is actually a historical novel set in an ancient Norse/Viking setting. The first third of the book moved slowly for me and I nearly set it aside. I'm glad I didn't though. By half way, I was totally hooked. And by the end, I loved it.
Kirby's book is brilliantly researched and really draws readers into young Sulveig's story - or stories. She is a storyteller, and what a tale she has to tell. It is listed for ages 8 - 12, but younger readers might have a difficult time with some of the Norse words and names, and there is quite a bit of graphic violence and death. But I would consider Icefall a superb contribution to children's historical literature.