Reviews for Icefall


Booklist Reviews 2011 November #2
Following his ambitious Victorian-era The Clockwork Three (2010), Kirby's second novel takes readers even deeper into history. In an attempt to keep his children safe while he wages war, a Viking chief sends beautiful Asa, heir-to-the-throne Harald, and overlooked Solveig to winter in a distant fortress along with a cadre of berserkers. While the ice-locked fjord provides a perfect safeguard from outside threats, it also becomes a prison when it's clear there's a traitor among them. Over the course of the brutal winter, Solveig learns the delicate art of storytelling from her father's skald ("the poet of the living past") and also forms a bond of mutual affection with the most fearsome berserker of the bunch. Her stories provide comfort, distraction, and hope for the starving people, but are tested to the utmost when blood begins to spill. Both elegant and exciting, this work recalls Jonathan Stroud's Heroes of the Valley (2009) in its treatment of the lofty spot that lore occupies in a warrior society and how stories give meaning to both life and death. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

----------------------
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Princess Solveig and her siblings spend winter trapped in a remote settlement. They wait to see if the king's enemies will find them--or if traitors in their midst will do them in. Solveig grows from a timid girl into a young woman who finally finds her voice. It's a slow process, but the courtly intrigue and a vividly realized setting keep things going.

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #2

The king's three children and a small group of warrior-protectors take refuge in a winter-bound steading on a northern fjord and discover there's a traitor in their midst.

Beautiful Asa, the eldest princess, faces an arranged marriage, although she loves another. Harald, the youngest, will one day be king. But the narrator, middle daughter Solveig, is neither attractive nor particularly useful, until she begins to realize she has talent as a storyteller and could have a future as a skald, or court bard. As food runs low and bitter winter tightens its hold, someone in the group begins to sabotage the remaining supplies, and Solveig has a dream that foretells a tragic end to their efforts to survive. Interesting, well-developed characters abound, and Solveig's strong narrative voice adds authenticity as she grows into her new role, not just telling stories of the mythical Scandinavian past but creating tales to alter the behavior of those around her. Valid clues and occasional red herrings heighten the sense of mystery. The chilly, claustrophobic, ancient setting is vividly created, and the sense of impending doom generates a gripping suspense overarching the developing—and deteriorating—relationships among the group, marking Kirby (The Clockwork Three, 2010) as a strong emerging novelist.

Recommend this one to teens who crave a good mystery set in an icily different time and place. (Alternative historical mystery. 11-18)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #2

The king's three children and a small group of warrior-protectors take refuge in a winter-bound steading on a northern fjord and discover there's a traitor in their midst.

Beautiful Asa, the eldest princess, faces an arranged marriage, although she loves another. Harald, the youngest, will one day be king. But the narrator, middle daughter Solveig, is neither attractive nor particularly useful, until she begins to realize she has talent as a storyteller and could have a future as a skald, or court bard. As food runs low and bitter winter tightens its hold, someone in the group begins to sabotage the remaining supplies, and Solveig has a dream that foretells a tragic end to their efforts to survive. Interesting, well-developed characters abound, and Solveig's strong narrative voice adds authenticity as she grows into her new role, not just telling stories of the mythical Scandinavian past but creating tales to alter the behavior of those around her. Valid clues and occasional red herrings heighten the sense of mystery. The chilly, claustrophobic, ancient setting is vividly created, and the sense of impending doom generates a gripping suspense overarching the developing—and deteriorating—relationships among the group, marking Kirby (The Clockwork Three, 2010) as a strong emerging novelist.

Recommend this one to teens who crave a good mystery set in an icily different time and place. (Alternative historical mystery. 11-18)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 September #4

Kirby follows The Clockwork Three with a tense mystery that blends history and Norse myth. Solveig--the plain and oft-ignored second daughter to a king away at war--has been sent to safety high in the fjords, along with her siblings, beautiful Asa and future heir Harald, and others loyal to her father. As winter closes in, food grows scarce, and tempers flare. When tragedy strikes, it becomes clear that one among them is a traitor. Their only diversion comes from the stories told by Alric, the resident skald, who takes on Solveig as an apprentice. With her ability to spin tales and find the truth, can Solveig uncover the traitor? Kirby turns in a claustrophobic, thought-provoking coming-of-age adventure that shows a young woman growing into her own, while demonstrating the power of myth and legend. Kirby's attention to detail and stark descriptions make this an effective mood piece. Readers may be drawn in by the promise of action, which Kirby certainly fulfills, but they'll be left contemplating the power of the pen versus the sword--or rather the story versus the war hammer. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

----------------------
School Library Journal Reviews 2011 November

Gr 4-7--Solveig and her two siblings are sent to the far end of a fiord for safety's sake while their father battles to save his kingdom. Solveig knows that the elite warriors who brought them there are entrusted to guard her younger brother, Harald, the crown prince. Older sister Asa, favored for her beauty and marriage potential, causes Solveig to agonize about her own insignificance and lack of purpose. Supplies dwindle while waiting for victory news, and anxiety increases as a warship full of the king's berserkers arrives just as ice closes over the fiord. Stranded for the winter, the untamed warriors are restless and unpredictable, and begin to raise mayhem in the camp, killing Solveig's pet goat and accusing one another of treason. Calmed only by listening to stories told by Alrec the skald (poet of the living past), the boorish Vikings become attentive to Solveig as well, bolstering her confidence and providing a means for the author to (ingeniously) integrate tales from Norse mythology, featuring gods Odin and Thor, supernatural creatures, and fallen warriors. In a page-turning climax, the fiord thaws and enemies arrive to overpower the berserkers and kidnap Harald. The ensuing battle and survival scenes are vividly portrayed, and characters fight back with the epic heroism of gods. Solveig is an empathetic heroine and Hake, the hulky berserker war chief, is also a well-developed and (eventually) endearing character. Fans of John Flanagan's "Ranger's Apprentice" series (Philomel) will enjoy this adventure tale.--Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY

[Page 128]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

----------------------
VOYA Reviews 2011 October
Solveig is the King's daughter, but as middle child (and a girl, no less) she struggles to find her place in her father's kingdom. To make matters worse, Solveig's sister and brother, their attendants, and a chosen few others have fled the kingdom on the brink of war and now wait, protected behind a secluding wall of ice. Sitting ducks for the enemy army and with supplies running low, the group is anxious to be called home. Every day the fjord freezes a little more, squeezing out the possibility for rescue.  In this fraught time, everyone must pitch in to survive, including the king's children. It is under these troubled conditions that Solveig discovers her own voice, her gift of storytelling, and her value to the community, not just as a helper, but as a story changer. Steampunk fans will enjoy the suspense and intrigue of this fantastic realm. The pace and tone is even; the characters and their reactions lovingly-drawn. The ideal audience for this book, however, will be the small (though loyal) genre fans.  As interesting as it is, Solveig's story is probably not compelling enough to create crossover.--Jennifer Miskec 3Q 2P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

----------------------