Monday, August 6, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Icefall By Matthew J. Kirby

About The Book:   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? -Goodreads

First Line: The fjord is freezing over.

Great Passage: "...A story is not a thing. A story is an act. It only exists in the brief moment of its telling. The question you must ask is what the story has the power to do. The truth of something you do is very different from the truth of something you know." He leaves the runestone and comes to stand over me, looking down. "My tale last night. Did it comfort you?"
      "And was the comfort real? Was it true?"
      "I thought it was."
      "Then the story was true. And that is what is most important in the telling, whether Thor's chariout is really pulled by two bucks, or not."

What Others Are Saying: “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.” — Publishers Weekly

“Clear, lively, exciting, and unstoppable as the torrent of meltwater from a glacier, Icefall confirms Matthew Kirby as one of our finest new writers for young adults. Readers of any age may be enthralled by the bitter Nordic winter setting and the story of a girl who needs a lot of courage to discover who she is.” — Ursula K. Le Guin, acclaimed author of the Earthsea Cycle

What I Thought: Every once in a while my husband, a voracious scifi/fantasy reader, grabs a book from my TBR pile before I get to it. Then he's in torture until I read it because I refuse to listen or discuss it until I have had a chance to crack the cover. This time I was backed up and didn't get to it for a couple of months. When I finally did pick it up, I quickly learned why he loved it: Vivid setting, strong characters, Norse mythology, intrigue and mystery. The frigid winter setting became a character itself as it imposed it's bite on this diverse group of captors in the ice. Even though the main character is a girl, boys will enjoy this to. Fierce battles between seasoned soldiers and wild berserkers laced with stories of Thor an Odin make this tale appealing to any middle grader an young adult. Probably more for the high end middle grader or as a read-aloud, Icefall has it all.
About The Author: 
Matthew J. Kirby 
Matthew Kirby was born in Utah, and grew up in Maryland, California, and Hawaii. As an undergraduate he majored in history, and then went on to pursue an M.S. in school psychology. For ten months out of the year he works with students, and during the rest of the year he writes. He and his wife currently live in northern Utah.

Kirby's other book The Clockwork Three was reviewed on the blog here.
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Later this week: "Yoga on The Go: My 30-day Progress Report" and "Barking Great News From Woofstock".

Next Monday: Railsea by China Mieville 

Question Of The Day:  Do you agree with the "Great Passage" (see above) in Kirby's Icefall?
Why or why not?
Those that answer will be entered to win August's book give-away. Drawing on Aug. 31 (My birthday!) What better way to celebrate than to give to my readers! Prizes announced next week. Stay tuned...


  1. I love the sound of this. After reading The Game of Thrones series I'm in the mood for a little more ice and winter.

  2. This and Clockwork Three have been on my list. Sounds like a great adventure and considering our similar tastes in "upper middle grade" reads, I'm looking forward to it. I'm doing a talk on "setting" soon and think I should read this one in particular, as you say the setting becomes a character in the book. Even from the brief passage you posted, sounds up my ally. Love the fact that it "tortures" your husband not to be able to talk about a book with you. My husband and I rarely read the same books.

  3. The great question: That there are two types of truth (the truth of what you do and the truth of what you know) is something with which I can agree. This book is working its way to the top of my TBR pile. I may just move it up further, based on your review, Pam.

  4. This sounds great Pam. I definitely think the truth of what we do and what we think can be very different. Look of all the unhealthy choices we make even though we know the truth of what's good. I know that's not what he means but it's what that phrase brings to mind.

  5. Hey, everybody thanks for coming by!

    Gabrielle- The Game of Thrones of course is far more racey. :)

    theaccidentalnovelist- There are still lots of books that hubby and I don't share.

    Michael- So I want to know, what's on the top of your TBR?

    Natalie- I totally agree with your comparison. I think sometimes we have to know something for a long time before we finally get it and actually apply it/ do it.

  6. Great review...and now I must move this up my to read list! I think I agree with the great passage...and would add that the act of story is a ripple affect, one thing leads to another and possible comes back to us so we can act on it again depending on where in are in time and place. Er, I think that is what I think?! Great food for thinking, thanks!

  7. Hi Deb,
    This is starting to sound like one of those questions that you talk about late at night, under the stars after smoking something funny...


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