From the author of The River at Night comes a new thriller about linguist Valerie "Val" Chesterfield, who is broken-hearted after the apparent suicide of her glaciologist brother. When Val is summoned by her brother's colleague hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle to try to communicate with a young girl who has miraculously been revived after being frozen in the ice, she becomes suspicious about her brother's death.
Girl in Ice is a lot of things: a psychological suspense novel, a linguistic thriller and a scientific puzzle. The more Sigrid communicates, through words and drawings, the more perplexing her story. Can she in fact be a survivor from the distant past? Why hasn’t Wyatt—gravely ill and desperate to make a significant discovery in his remaining days—publicized her existence? And could any of this have something to do with the death of Val’s brother? Ms. Ferencik describes the Arctic topography with a poet’s awe, and some of her set-pieces—the procession of a huge herd of caribou, an Arctic dive gone badly awry—are breathtaking. But it’s the enchanting Sigrid, and her growing attachment to Val, whom she calls 'Bahl,' who makes this book such a singular sensation. A reader may ignore any number of 'hey, wait a minute' plot implausibilities for another burst of gleeful Sigrid-speak: 'Joy! Bahl, Sigrid, safe, night, magic, warm.'
This literary speculative fiction thriller not only tackles issues of language and first-contact colonialism, as well as climate change and what we’re doing to the planet, but also what it means to overcome your greatest fears in order to do the right thing. At its heart is the little girl that Val and the staff of the Arctic Circle outpost are trying to get through to, though more than one person has their own ulterior motives for learning how to communicate with her and discovering the truth behind her unusual circumstances. The mysteries are many-layered and intriguing as Val navigates a forbidding landscape of bleak cold and low survivability in order to protect her young charge, while unearthing the dark truths lurking in the heart of the place that claimed her brother’s life and could, if she isn’t careful, claim hers as well.
The most alarming discovery...will feature some images that readers, myself included, will not soon forget ... a novel of secrets. It is also an allegory for what human beings are doing to the natural world and the terrifying possibility that Mother Nature might one day strike back in unpredictable ways. All in all, this is a memorable and literally chilling read.