The Ice Queen – Alice Hoffman

Posted 26 October, 2008 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 29 Comments


Title: The Ice Queen
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date Finished: Oct 19, 2008 #61
Pages: 211
Published: 2005
Rating: 4.25/5

I read my first Hoffman book, Here on Earth, about five years ago and haven’t had a strong desire to read something else by her since then. But I have heard such fantastic things about her books and finally decided to give her another go during the read-a-thon. And I’m glad that I did because this book was spellbinding and captivating from the opening sentences:

“Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things. They burn your tongue the moment they’re spoken and you can never take them back. They bruise and bake and come back to haunt you” (3).

The Ice Queen begins with a little girl who makes a simple wish that changes her entire life. She always had a relatively quiet existence, but when she wished that her mother would disappear, everything changed forever. After her mother’s death, her brother and she lived with her grandmother and she grew into a reticent woman fascinated with death. Several years after her initial wish upon her mother, the woman wished herself dead, and the wish half came true when she was struck by lightening causing her to be constantly chilled, her heart began skipping beats, and she could no longer see the color red.

Through a support group for individuals who have been struck by lightening, she learns of a man, Lazarus Jones, who was brought back to life by lightening. Upon a whim, she seeks out this man who has received a second chance at living. The two slowly enter into a strange love affair–one where her cold is finally offset by his intense heat, but the closer she gets to him, the more she realizes that Lazarus has his own dark secrets about who and what he is.

The Ice Queen is a beautiful and subtle book about loss and redemption as Hoffman explores how life can instantly change in the smallest moment. She talks about the chaos effect (I’ve also heard this called the butterfly effect) where the beating of a butterfly’s wings can send fate into a completely different direction. But while this might imply that there are things in our lives that we cannot control, Hoffman also shows us a life where our decisions and choices impact the outcome of who we are and where our lives will take us.

The story itself is enchanting, but I was also swept away by Hoffman’s writing. Her character development is powerful without being forceful, and while most of the novel is introspective, the plot is smooth and engaging. It was the perfect book for the read-a-thon because there is never a moment where the story lulls, and though there are some fantastical elements to the book, Hoffman makes you believe everything that she writes. I would recommend this book and will definitely be picking up others by her.

They also read it:Mrs. S, Rhinoa, Nymeth (let me know if I’ve missed yours)

29 Responses to “The Ice Queen – Alice Hoffman”

  1. I have enjoyed the two Alice Hoffman books I’ve read. I just love her style of writing. I have a copy of this one sitting in my TBR room that I hope to get to eventually. Thank you for the terrific review, Trish!

  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Trish. I haven’t read one Hoffman book, but I have Turtle Moon on my shelf. You’ve given me incentive to get to it sooner, rather than later. :)

  3. I keep seeing Alice Hoffman’s name around the blogosphere, but I haven’t read anything by her so far. Normally, this book would sound a bit too strange for me, but since you enjoyed it so much, I might have to read it for the next RAT!

  4. I really liked this book when I read it, but Practical Magic is still my favorite. I’m reading The River King as the moment and it’s good too. I’m glad you enjoyed it, I think Alice Hoffman’s writing is so beautiful, I always like when others are moved by it.

  5. You made it sound like a wonderful read. I loved her YA book The Foretelling, and since then I’ve wanted to read more of this author.

  6. *Bermuda – Do you have a favorite by Hoffman that you would recommend? Hope you like this one.

    *Literary Feline – I hope you get to it soon. I’m guessing if you liked others by her you’ll like this one as well.

    *Sam – I would recommend this one, especially if you like books that border on fantasy.

    *Joy – I’ve heard good things about Turtle Moon–I don’t think I realized until recently how prolific Hoffman is!

    *Laura – She wrote Practical Magic–was made into a movie with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. The first book that I read I didn’t like but this one was much better.

    *Joanna – I’ll have to check out Practical Magic! I’ve seen the movie and really liked it. I haven’t heard of The River King, though.

    *Valentina – I hope you enjoy this one–I was really enchanted by this one.

    *Nymeth – I did really enjoy it. I can’t even really remember now why I didn’t care for Here on Earth, but I’m glad I gave her a second try!

  7. Until I read the comments, I didn’t realize I’d ever read anything by Alice Hoffman, but I read Practical Magic in 1999 and thought it was awful. Ah well. I wasn’t sure what to think about this book based on your review – it sounded interesting, but like it might not be the best written (from my pov) – but I’ll probably pass on it now that I realize I’ve experienced something else by that author.

  8. I had never heard of her before, but after reading through the comments, I was proven wrong. I did see Practical Magic, and although it wasn’t one of my favorite movies, your review made this book sound like it would be worth reading.

    How did you come about picking this one? Just curious.

  9. Great review Trish. I read this one so long ago I had already forgotten what it was about. I really enjoy Hoffman’s Books. The latest one I read was Third Angel and I really enjoyed it.

  10. *Amanda – Probably best to pass. While I don’t think this book is the best written book ever, I do think that Hoffman did a good job with the material. I didn’t like the writing of Here on Earth AT ALL but I did with this one. Can’t compare it to Practical Magic.

    *Kari – I picked it up last year at Half Price Books on whim. I have heard reallly good things about the author and thought I would give her a second chance. I’d say at least half of my book purchases are completely random!

    *Michelle – I think you’d like this one!!

    *Dar – I have troubles forgetting books as well. I think I remember reading your review of Third Angel–I’ll definitely have to check out more of her works.

    *CJ – It is very dark but not in a depressing sort of way. It was perfect for a cozy night of reading in bed (amidst the hectic read-a-thon that is).

  11. Alice Hoffman is my fav author! I’ve not read Here on Earth yet though, it’s on my bookshelf. You can find reviews of her books on my blog if you search for her name. Unforutunately most of my reviews of her books (including this one, one of my favs) are very short, before I got better at reviewing which is why I won’t bother leaving you a link to link to.

    I did link to yours though.

  12. I’ve not read anything by this author but this one sounds good! Thanks for the great review, Trish. I’ll have to check out her books. :)

  13. I think Here on Earth is the Hoffman I tried to read as well and ended up giving up. I’ve been curious to try her again but never done it, I will add this book to the list and see what I think!

  14. *Callista – I’ll have to try more things by her! I keep hearing good things but my bad experience the first time around kind of put me off for a while. Thanks for popping by!

    *Melody – I’ve been seeing reviews of her books around a lot recently–she seems to be quite popular. I don’t know of many of her books but I think I’ll try Practical Magic next (loved the movie!)

    *Verbivore – I’m not sure if I was bugged more about the references to Wuthering Heights (my favorite classic) in the book or whether the writing style just bugged me. anyway, Here on Earth did not work for me. This one was much better!

  15. Oh Trish, this was such a beautiful review! I immediately ordered this one from paperback swap after reading Nymeth’s review, but I haven’t cracked it open yet. You’re seriously tempting me to go dig it out of the piles…

  16. wow! that seems like quite a dark plat. if you know what i mean.. i usually don’t read books like this but i have slowly started to.. maybe i’ll pick this one up!:)

  17. *Debi – Nymeth’s reviews are hard to resist, huh? I hope you enjoy this one!

    *Ramya – It is pretty dark but not overwhelmingly so. The ending is pretty redemptive. If you pick it up I hope you like it!

  18. *lol* I was just stopping by to tell you how much I enjoyed this one and see you’ve already linked to my review :) Since reading Skylight Confessions this summer I’ve been collecting her novels and have 3 more to read on teh TBR

  19. I’d taken this book out of the library, but had to give it back before I had a chance to read it. I think I’ll request it again once I clear some of the books out of my TBR pile. Thanks for the great review!

    Oh, and Skylight Confessionsis the only Hoffman book I’ve read.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  20. *Clare – I see you’ve changed your ID name since you were last by–in the future I’ll be sure to include your reviews under this name rather than Mrs. S. ;) I also collect novels after I’ve read something I like!

    *Anna – I’ll have to check out Skylight Confessions! I hope you like this one (that whole time limit thing is part of the reason why I don’t frequent the library as often).

  21. *Naida – do you have any others to recommend? I’ve only read this and Here On Earth (which I didn’t like), but I’d love to try more!

  22. idzan ismail

    Hi Trish

    Just fancy this. Never heard of Alice Hoffman until Jodi Picoult said she’s her fave author.
    So scoured my local bookstores and found Seventh Heaven and Sykylight Confessions. Now about to finish the latter.
    Picoult also mentioned Anita Shreve. So I bought seven of her books and finished reading it.
    Next will be Elinor Lipman books. Can’t find them yet.
    Am I stupid, gullible or what? lol.
    Love Idzan Ismail
    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

  23. *Idzan – I first heard of Hoffman after the movie Practical Magic was made. I’m just now starting to get into her books, but I’ve heard great things about her! I haven’t heard of Elinor Lipman!! I’ll definitely have to look her up.