checked out Girl In Ice because it got a starred review in Bookpage's monthly column on New Mysteries and Thrillers.
The premise sounded intriguing - a team in Greenland has discovered a young girl frozen in the glacier, yet when thawed out, the young girl comes alive! Unfortunately, the young girl speaks in a language that is
unrecognizable to the modern Inuit inhabitants of Greenland. The novel's protagonist, Val Chesterfield, is a master of archaic northern European languages? Would Val fly to Greenland and find away to communicate with this unexpectedly-alive girl?
I am not fond of characters that need to use drugs and alcohol to face the world. This makes Val Chesterfield a less sympathetic protagonist. Also, I was not fond of
Ferencik's continuous attempts to create an atmosphere of menace - everything Val looks at causes her fear - a shed full of machines is somehow transformed into a scary shop of potential horror. A routine
flight to Greenland is frightening. Jeanne teaching Val to drive a snowcat across the open landscape in good weather is a hair-raising experience. Although it is not spelled out anywhere, presumably Val
suffers from some kind of anxiety disorder? Ferencik's paints an atmosphere of fear where there is no threat, and ultimately it undermines the intended effect. If every gesture by Wyatt carries hidden meaning, if every glance from Jeanne is
freighted with hidden significance, ultimately none of builds the desired tension on the part of the reader.
Val had a twin brother, Andy, who became a climatologist and was assigned to the remote Greenland research station where Val is now headed. Unfortunately, Andy is dead - he froze to death when he ventured outside the
hut wearing just his underwear. Was it really suicide - or was Andy murdered?
When Val gets to the research station, she meets the two researchers who were there when Andy died - Wyatt and Jeanne. They show her Odin - a white arctic mouse. Wyatt claims that Odin was frozen solid, but now he
looks like a perfectly healthy mouse. How is this possible? It is a mystery no one understands.
Val meets the young girl, Sigrid, whom Wyatt and Jeanne rescued from the glacier. She is only about eight years old, and clearly frightened and frustrated by her inability to communicate. Val doesn't recognize
the words that Sigrid says, they are not like any language she can decipher. Wyatt and Jeanne ride out in the snowcat with Val to show her the crevasse where Sigrid was found frozen. How is it possible that she is now alive?
Val decides that whatever progress she makes in communicating with Sigrid will remain hidden from Wyatt. Why Val decides this is a good plan did not make sense to me.
I turned the pages quickly enough (the hardback edition is 291 pages), interested to find out what happen next. But when I got the end and all the mysteries were explained, I was unhappy with the plot, as I
will explain in the spoilers section. I wish Ferencik and her editor(s) had invested more thought about Girl in Ice's plot points; I will not be reading any more books by Ferencik.
A bunch of actions by the characters in Girl in Ice left me frustrated.
Why did Wyatt steal Val's anxiety pills? How does it help him to have Val uncontrollably anxious when she is supposed to be learning how to
talk to Sigrid?
Wyatt and Jeanne lock an adult caribou in their giant freezer. Why? What is the purpose of slowly freezing a caribou to death? Wyatt and Jeanne don't know the secret of ice-eel blood, so there is no expectation that a frozen
caribou could be revived. When Val breaks the lock and rescues the caribou - it wanders a way, and Wyatt and Jeanne don't even comment upon this! It must have taken considerable effort to get a caribou into the freezer, and then Val disrupts their scheme,
and they simply shrug?
The book refers to "Katabatic Winds" which are super cold winds that strike without warning, instantly dropping the temperature to subzero temperatures and immediately freezing anyone unlucky enough to be caught outside. Wyatt and
Jeanne take everyone out to the site to see where Sigrid was discovered. There, in the ice, is an astonishing scene - several dozen Inuit are caught in a frozen fight. They were frozen so quickly that dogs are frozen in mid-lunge. Disemboweled wounds are frozen
even as they spill forth. People are caught still wielding spears and knives, their expressions filled with rage and astonishment. But even if a fierce "Katabatic Wind" immediately froze all of these combatants in mid-swing, how did they all come to be encased
in ice? Where did all the water come from to surround these fighters and preserve them in an icy tomb, leaving them in their standing and fighting positions? A flood of water would have knocked them over and washed them away.
Odin the arctic mouse is thawed out and is perfectly fine - but how did ice eel blood get injected into Odin before he was frozen? When the research team attempted to revive the frozen baby boy, the revival fails. They don't learn until later
that the secret is that the ice-eel cryoproteins
must be injected before the living being in frozen. Since the baby boy lacked ice-eel blood, he could not be unfrozen. So how is it that Odin the mouse could surviving being frozen, who injected him?
Sigrid needs the blood of an ice eel injected into her or she will perish (why? She isn't in danger of freezing). The book races to a final deadline, and Sigrid gets an injection of ice-eel blood at that last dramatic moment, and this revives
her almost immediately with no ill effect. Yet, in the happy ending, Sigrid is living in an Inuit village, far from the coast. How come she no longer needs more injections of ice-eel blood every few weeks?
Why does Wyatt kill Andy when he won't reveal the secret of surviving being frozen? Killing Andy makes Wyatt a murderer, and it also makes it impossible for Wyatt to learn the secret of ice-eel blood from Andy. How did Andy discover the secret of
ice eel blood? He is a climatologist, not a biologist. When Val tells Wyatt the secret of ice eel blood, he thinks she is lying, and so he and Jeanne decide to lock Val and Sigrid in the giant freezer - how does killing more people help them discover the secret?
There is no reason for these murders.
How can Sigrid call to narwhales from above the ice? The narwhales are below the ice, it would be impossible for Sigrid's sound to carry far enough to be heard. How could Sigrid's people have learned to speak narwhale? Could they speak caribou and
polar bear also?? What was the point of this narwhales interaction?
Ultimately, I felt that the novel failed due to nonsensical plot points and dumb behavior by the characters.