Monday, February 18, 2013

Icefall by Matthew Kirby

From Goodreads: 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. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, and 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 and her siblings survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he succeeds in destroying a kingdom?

My Two Cents: Icefall won plenty of awards, all of them well-deserved. (2012 Edgar Award Winner for Best Juvenile Mystery, 2011 Agatha Award Nominee, New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, 2012 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults). The setting, the characters, and the plot are all extraordinary, and it really does defy characterization. It's a little bit fantasy, there are (lighter) elements of romance, and definite doses of mystery and suspense. But the part that really won me over was the coming-of-age story, which is really unique and touching. I think young readers who are ready for a little bit of a challenge will really be drawn into this one. I know I was!

Grade Level: 4-6

Additional Resources:
  • Matthew Kirby's website
  • Learn more about real berserkers here
  • Fun Norway facts, maps, sightseeing guide, and more at Time for Kids
  • Learn about some of the Norse mythology found in Icefall here 
  • Tell a story as a group (like Alaric and Solveig). One person starts, then someone else takes over. If you need help, use one of these Story Starters for Kids.

More to Read:  
  • Another story of a princess far from home but not far from danger: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
  • Another story of young people trapped by the snow with a big mystery to solve: Capture the Flag by Kate Messner
  • Another story of royal siblings saving the day in the absence of their parents: Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George


  1. I absolutely adore this book! It's so beautifully done and I agree that it deserved all the praise and awards that it received. :)

  2. I've still not read this one, but I'm never disappointed by your recommendations, so I'm adding it to the TBR.