Girl in Ice
December 1, 2021

Book Review

Girl in Ice

reviewed by Fiona Cook

Val Chesterfield’s twin brother Andy was stationed at a remote research post on an island off the coast of Greenland, when one night he stepped outside into the freezing cold to die.

Now, almost six months later, a girl has been found there, frozen in the ice; but when she thaws out she’s miraculously alive, and speaking a language no-one understands. As a linguist and a sister, Val can’t resist the invitation to visit the site of her brother’s dead and attempt to unlock the mystery of this child and the frozen landscapes of the north. 

Some books just demand to be read in one sitting, and Girl in Ice is certainly one of them. Erica Ferencik brought Greenland to life in my imagination from the moment Val first flew over the icebergs of its frozen seas. The remoteness and danger of just the environment of the island and its research station would have provided plenty of dramatic tension on their own – just surviving the local weather and wildlife isn’t something to take for granted. There are, however, human dynamics galore; Andy wasn’t alone when he took his own life, and the other outpost staff there that day, Wyatt and Jeanne, remain. Val, usually too anxious to leave even her home state, and uncertain of herself, isn’t sure whether she’s imagining that something seems slightly wrong, and the girl she’s pulled herself completely out of her comfort zone to help is reluctant even to be in the same room as other people – let alone attempt to communicate.

Between the characters, the landscape, and that creepingly ominous atmosphere, Girl in Ice had me genuinely torn between my need to read faster and learn just what was going on, and my need to spin the book out, so that I didn’t finish too soon. Val was such a sympathetic character, struggling with her own demons but determined to finally break out of the safe shell she’d trapped herself in, and her specialty of linguistics meant some fascinating details about language, especially the words in other languages for specific tones of emotion.

 Whether I was desperate to solve a mystery, marveling at a beautifully described part of the northern scenery, or absorbing some fascinating tidbit of knowledge, this book held me rapt from start to end. Already one of my favorite books of next year, I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.


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