Private investigator Eliana Gomez wants nothing more than to escape from Hope City, Antarctica, but she has little hope of being able to afford a ticket out—that is, until an unexpected client shows up at her door. Eliana finds herself in the center of political events as those around her struggle for control of the domed city, once a tourist destination and now the primary power source for the mainland, as the electricity begins to fail.
I will read almost anything about Antarctica, so when I first heard about Our Lady of the Ice, you can bet I was intrigued by it. There’s something about the atmosphere that comes with cold settings that I love, and more and more I’ve been intrigued by science fiction. I eagerly picked this novel up, and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint.
The setting of Our Lady of the Ice is what really made the novel for me. It’s desolate and sparse, but somehow beautiful; Clarke brings it to life with her excellent prose. The worldbuilding in this novel is really incredible; Clarke imagines a vivid world on the seventh continent, full of unique and wondrous things, but there’s always a danger lurking just off the page. The characters in this novel are at the mercy of the elements; the cold always lingers and permeates everything. It’s incredibly well done, and really draws the reader into the book.
The issues explored in this novel aren’t really what I expected when I first picked up Our Lady of the Ice; this novel is so much richer and more complex than I ever expected. What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be a person? Clarke explores these difficult questions through her characters, who are vivid and well-drawn. There are a lot of them who populate this book, but it’s clear that the author took care with each of them; they have distinct voices and personalities, each leaping off the page in their own way.
Readers will likely pick up Our Lady of the Ice for the unique setting or promise of an intriguing science fiction story, but they will stay for the rich characters, the incredible worldbuilding, and deep dive into complex issues. The novel is provocative while also being completely gripping. I look forward to seeing what Clarke does next.