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.