Title: The Ice Princess
Author: Camilla Lackberg
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Publisher: Free Press
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Erica returns to her hometown after her parents’ death and is trying to deal with her grief when she discovers something shocking – the body of her former friend, Alex. Alex and she were inseparable as children, but after Alex dropped Erica abruptly with no explanation, they haven’t had contact. Erica can’t help but agree when Alex’s grieving parents ask her to write about Alex, so she begins to delve into Alex’s life and is shocked by what she finds.
The Ice Princess is another Scandinavian novel in translation, this time set in the coastal Swedish town of Fjallbacka. Though the town is popular in the summer as a resort destination, it has emptied out for the winter, and it is in this desolate atmosphere that the novel takes place. Lackberg does a wonderful job writing this empty, stark atmosphere, and it gives the reader chills as the novel progresses.
Erica is a solid main character, unsure of what she wants. Her career of writing biographies has stalled, and she doesn’t consider herself a “real” author because she doesn’t come up with her own material. Returning home has brought back many memories, most of which have been buried for years. Erica’s an appealing woman, strong yet vulnerable; she constantly doubts herself, but gains confidence as the novel moves along. She makes a great centerpiece for this first-in-a-series novel.
The mystery in The Ice Princess is fascinating, but winding. The book takes time to get going, and once it does, it moves along at its own, almost languorous pace. It’s only towards the end that everything starts to come together and the novel picks up speed. That’s not to say that the book is boring at all, because it isn’t; it just isn’t super fast-paced and takes time to build its characters and the plot before moving forward. I will admit, though, that a stumbling block for the novel’s pace is the stilted dialogue. I can’t say whether it’s Lackberg’s writing or the translation, but the dialogue in the novel is awkward and unrealistic, and it would constantly bring me out of the reading experience.
At the center of The Ice Princess is the concept of secrets, and how they will always end up coming to light, no matter how deep you try to bury them. Lackberg takes the reader on a twisty path to uncover those secrets, and it’s fun to be along for the ride. I look forward to reading the next novel in this series, The Preacher, and can’t wait to see what Erica is up to next.