“To twin siblings Izzie and Poe McGarity, big brother Rossa is not just the eldest of three children. He is a hero, a leader, a king. Or rather…he was a king. Before his mistake. Before he died.
Haunted by visions of Rossa wherever they turn, the twins and their parents accept an invitations to the legendary Ice Hotel, and enormous structure built entirely from snow and ice, thousands of miles to the north, in the Arctic Circle.
What the grief-stricken McGaritys don’t know, is that The Ice Hotel will not only bring them face to face with frigid Arctic winds, powerful huskies built of fur and frost, magnetic fields, fluxes and levitations, mercenary Hunters, and a storm thundering towards the polar cap with the force of the cosmos itself; but also, it will bring them closer than they could ever imagine, to Rossa’s last, greatest, and most impossible wish.”
Sometimes when you start reading a book you have a fair idea of what it’ll entail. You can either tell from the blurb, from what other people have said or from reading reviews. With this book however, I was completely unprepared.
The McGarity family has just suffered a devastating loss. Their son, their brother, their star, Rossa, died in an unfortunate accident, leaving behind a gaping hole of grief in the McGarity household. When news reaches old family friends, the Eriksson, they extend an invitation to the family to join them in Sweden for the winter where they are currently supervising the construction of The Ice Hotel.
They soon begin to pack and travel away from California and the house where the reminder of Rossa’s loss is found in every corner yet his presence is felt in every room.
The Ice Hotel however is housing more than just tourists and sculptors this year. As a huge storm builds over the Arctic Circle, forces greater than anything seen in over 50 years will cause more than just mass blackouts, and the Hunters are moving in closer just for the event.
The first sign of how unprepared I was for this book hit me on the first page – much of the writing is structured like a poem. Since I’d never read anything like that at first I thought, oh no, how am I supposed to read this? But very quickly I caught on and soon found my eyes easily tumbling down the page as the story travelled along centering on Rossa’s younger twin siblings, Izzie and Poe.
Through the twins we see just how heartbreaking Rossa’s death has been. From their parents who became shadows of their former selves, to their own pain as their grief made them sometimes at odds with each other.
M.C. Foley’s writing is both heartfelt and lyrical, illustrating the beautiful setting of the Swedish Ice Hotel (which is a real place), the spectacular Northern Lights, as well as the way death and grief is dealt with. Some scenes really hit close to the heart and at times will have you in tears. I especially liked the passage about hope and the way ice and snow was used to represent death and letting go. It was interesting to see a fantasy/supernatural aspect combined with such a heavy topic but it was used quite well. The story sometimes switched back in time, to different characters but was weaved into the main storyline effortlessly adding depth to the characters mentioned.
I was glad to discover that there will be a sequel to The Ice Hotel because though the ending was beautiful and heartbreaking (you’ll need a box of tissues), it also left a lot up in the air. Im hoping we hear more about the men in the observatory, the Sami and the Hunters, in particular Alexander, since their role in this book was quite minor and almost felt unnecessary to the plot. Alexander was definitely interesting and at times added some drama, but in this book he could’ve just as easily not been in it.
The Ice Hotel was a completely unique experience with an utterly heartbreaking story. I said that I was unprepared for what was to come, but each aspect was a pleasant surprise to discover. If you’re after a story that’s out of the norm then this one’s for you.
Publication Date: February 2010
Publisher: CreateSpace/Self Published
Teaser Quote: “…anything?,” Ahnna chocked. Behind her, Poe chocked too.
“Yes. God, yes,” Del responded. “Anything.”
“Then bring him back.”