Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby, paperback novel, 321 pages, first published by Scholastic Press in 2011, this edition published by Scholastic Inc. in 2013.
Solveig is a princess growing up in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Asa, and that of her younger brother, the heir, Harald. To the King, she has always been the plain, unpromising and unimportant middle child, but when the three siblings are trapped behind an icy fjord for the winter, Solveig comes into her own. As their father fights a war, the princesses and prince are being protected in the King’s Hall with some loyal servants and a band of violent berserkers, that normally serve the King in battle. They cannot leave their ice safe-hold until the spring thaw arrives, but that is a long time away through a bitter winter. It soon becomes apparent that there is a traitor in their midst, but it’s hard for Solveig to imagine that one of these trusted few could betray them and their father. What appeared to be a protected haven, has now become a place of uncertainty, distrust and danger. They must wait for the thaw that will allow them to escape the trap that they have found themselves in, but maybe it won’t come soon enough.
I suppose Icefall could be described as a ‘coming of age’ story, as Solveig begins to define herself outside of her father’s narrow view of her during a period of stress. She matures and finds a strength she never knew she possessed, and in turn she finds herself. Also, Icefall is a mystery which was exciting and interesting. The characters were well developed, and the storyline was compelling. The story is told from Solveig’s point of view, and the reader is able to grasp how she feels and thinks about the situation she finds herself in, and those she shares it with. I could also visualise the berserkers and the location in which the story is set. I really enjoyed this book, it was definitely a page turner for me. I think it would probably be best for upper primary and high school children, but mature younger children might also enjoy this adventure.