The Ice Queen
Alice Hoffman.

This book starts, as all good fairytales should, one snowflake-filled night as an eight-year-old girl makes a damning wish that she will live to regret for the rest of her life.

Waving her beloved young mother off to a party, she appeals to the wintry skies and wishes that she would disappear, never to be seen again. Sure enough her old car slowly slips off an icy road, and her premature death serves to haunt her young daughter forever after.

Fast forward a good few years and the quiet daughter, complete with a splinter of ice wedged firmly in her guilty heart, is now a lonely New Jersey librarian with a disconcerting fascination with all things death-related.

After yet another tragedy in her dark life, she is spirited away by her meteorologist brother to a life of Florida sunshine, where she makes another wish and is struck by lightning in a surreal, life-defining moment. Rather than kill her, the sudden surge of electricity erases her ability to see red and spurs her on to find a fellow survivor who was struck dead but got up and walked away again.

From page one, The Ice Queen effortlessly combines disparate subjects such as chaos theory and uncontrollable passions with grief and that ever-present hint of danger which runs throughout each page, threatening to snap at any time. A hauntingly beautiful read with a startling sting in its icy tail.

Emma Pomfret