Icefall by Matthew Kirby

Intrigue…mystery…and ice!  Everything you’ve ever wanted in a book, except a hand that reaches out of the pages to give you a chocolate every half hour.  That’s what Icefall by Matthew Kirby has to offer (and I suggest you get your hands on it and read it if you haven’t already).

Over the weekend, I attended a SCBWI Conference (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and Matthew Kirby was one of the presenters.   I used to attend these conferences in Vegas years ago and there were so many attendees that I never got to speak to an author.  So I was tickled pink (or lilac or white like ice) to actually be sitting at a table with Matthew Kirby at the beginning of this conference.

I asked him questions about the research that went into his book and I’m sure he wished I would shut up and let him eat his pastry, but he smiled and was kind, even if I came across as lame (which is my forte in social settings.  Yea me!).

Kirby’s story is set in Viking times.   Solveig is the main character.  She is the king’s 2nd daughter who doesn’t feel she has a place in the world.  Her younger brother is the heir and loved by all; her older sister is beautiful and loved by all.  But she is just plain Solveig—who no one notices.   Wah!

Kirby did a great job making his characters come to life in a short span of time.  As the small group of warriors, cook, storyteller, and the king’s children are whisked away to a glacial hideout as the king wages war back home, it becomes clear that there is a traitor in their midst.  But who can it be?  (Input your own dramatic theme music here).

I loved the mysterious plot.  I loved the simple, but profound language.  I loved the Nordic legends weaved by the storyteller and Solveig to bring hope to their companions in the face of disaster.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“…And the shouting rises to a roar, accusations filling the air like arrows.  It is finally too much.  We have fractured under the strain and are undone.  It wasn’t the hunger that broke us.  It wasn’t the meat from my Hilda [the goat], nor the death that ravaged us.  Suspicion is a different kind of poison.  A potent toxin of whispers and air.  We’re all infected, and it will be our end.”  P 198

Icefall shows how stories inspire us…mold us…shape us.  They become truth when we believe them, and it is the storyteller’s special magic that makes this happen.  As I read Icefall, it made me happy to be a writer.  Even if I never make the bestseller list with my own stories, I still believe in stories of all kinds (and eat them up–they are less fattening than chocolate).

To all who tell stories (that’s everyone—even if you don’t write them down—see Bent Wrists Lesson 11), keep on believing and weaving your tales.  Stories are powerful!  Write on!


13 thoughts on “Icefall by Matthew Kirby

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I loved the paragraph from the book you shared. Beautiful writing.

    • Yes, his writing is really good. He pulled me right in against my will. I read it because “I had to” for credit, and ended up loving it. I love when that happens.

  2. “…except a hand that reaches out of the pages to give you a chocolate every half hour.”–Oh, you had me at that sentence, Missy. 🙂

    Great review. I’m currently reading a Nordic thriller–different theme, of course, but the description of Norway is wonderful to take in. Although with all of the scenes set in cold and snow, I need a sweater while I read it…

    • I knew you’d like the chocolate part! You’re a girl after my own heart. And yes, I agree on the sweater. I got chilled reading about all the frozen seas and glaciers too.

  3. Did you just attended a SCBWI conference, would you mind telling me how much interest / share of the event picture books have? I have some children’s book ideas for the age 6-10 range, but also several ideas for picture books. Several people told me to become a SCBWI member so it would be great to hear from someone who’s already part of the club.

    • I’m not a member yet. I went for my teaching credit and to see if I want to become a member. This conference was mostly focused on YA/midgrade books and authors. My friend that went with me is interested in doing picture books, and they had sessions where you could have your one page read out loud and critiqued and they would always ask if it was for picture book/YA/etc. The agent there said she looks more favorably on authors who query her if they say they are a member, and I know you get newsletters and info on children’s writing projects if you’re a member, so it’s probably a wise idea.

      • Thanks for the feedback, that’s very helpful. I’m thinking it’s a good place to find an agent too, as I understand most picture book authors can’t get through without one. I’ll keep the organization in the back of my mind because I don’t have time to get to these books yet and I have a few other projects I’d like to get done first. Argh, I need a time stretcher!

  4. I think it’s fantastic when you can get out there and talk to published authors. Meeting them makes you realize that getting published is obtainable, because they are walking, talking, breathing people, not just names slapped on book jackets.

    I always take the opportunity when I can

  5. nice that u got to go to that conference… i love to go to such things… the interaction & buzz! great review too… one more for my ever-growing list 😉

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