by Sarah Beth Durst
pub: Oct 2009
When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.
Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back -- if Cassie will agree to be his bride.
That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her -- until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.
Ice is a fun sweet fairy tale that had me smiling. Cassie is a strong young woman who grew up in the Arctic researching wildlife and chasing polar bears. She thinks her mother is dead but finds out that the stories her grandmother told her as a child are true.
Cassie's mother was the daughter of the North wind who disobeyed her father by not marrying the polar bear king and, instead, ran off with the human she loved, Cassie's father. The jilted king actually helps her escape because he makes a bargain that her daughter, Cassie, will be the king's bride. But the North wind eventually found his daughter, took her from her husband and daughter and sent her to remain prisoner in the troll castle.
Cassie's life is turned upside down by this revelation, she's a scientist after all, but she agrees to be the polar bear king's bride if he will rescue her mother. The deal is done and Cassie is now living in a magical ice castle with a polar bear who can also turn human.
I'm not giving anything away because all this happens in the first pages. The real story is the growing relationship between Cassie and Bear, her coming to terms with her new life, and then deciding what direction she wants to go with her future... and making it happen when things get in her way.
Cassie is strong and dedicated. And once she makes a decision, this girl does whatever it takes to protect the ones she loves and get what she wants.
This is more fairy tale than urban fantasy but I liked it. The relationships were real (as much as they can be when our protagonist is married to a bear) and the writing created a beautiful and fascinating world.
Durst does an excellent job of bringing the Arctic to life with her vivid description. I needed a sweater while I was reading this. And funny enough we had a snow storm going on at the time. Talk about atmosphere!
I will say that the quest in the second part of the book went a bit long for me but I foraged through and enjoyed the ending.
Love, family, commitment, independent thought, and sacrifice are all covered. There is also a big conservation and love of nature theme going on, as well as the idea that we are all connected and responsible for the care and respect for all living things. Ice even delves into spirituality.
The sex in Ice is handled discreetly and happens once the married couple has built their relationship. Birth control is also discussed but again it was tastefully done and could make for good conversation between adults and teens.
But all these heavy themes are not heavy handed. At it's core, Ice is a love story where true love conquers and the couple act as partners united in their commitment to each other and common goals. It's a wonderful fairy tale that you can choose to enjoy at face value or let provoke deeper avenues of thought.
Plentiful magic, fast pace (especially in the first half) and engaging characters make Ice a delight.
The Cover: I like it. The polar bear is adorable and the colors give you a sense of the chilly Arctic.
First Lines: Cassie killed the snowmobile engine. Total silence her favorite sound. Ice crystal spun in the Arctic air. Sparkling in the predawn light, they looked like diamond dust. Beneath the ice-encrusted face mask, she smiled. She loved this; just her, the ice and the bear.
This worked for me. She's strong, capable, independent and I want to know what happens with the bear!
ICE is good enough that we might add it to the MegaBook Giveaway list if we keep adding followers so check for updates! It would be a great addition to the already top notch list of books. We hope you enter!
If you have your own review of ICE please link it below! We'd love to hear your thoughts!