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The Ice Queen: A Novel Paperback – January 3, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A solitary New Jersey librarian whose favorite book is a guide to suicide methods is struck by lightning in Alice Hoffman's superb novel, The Ice Queen. Orphaned at the age of eight after angrily wishing she would never see her mother again, our heroine found herself frozen emotionally: "I was the child who stomped her feet and made a single wish and in so doing ended the whole world‹my world, at any rate." Her brother Ned solved the pain of their mother's death by becoming a meteorologist: applying reason and logic to bad weather. Eventually, he invites our heroine to move down to Florida, where he teaches at a university. Here, while trying to swat a fly, she is struck by lightning (the resulting neurological damage includes an inability to see the color red). Orlon County turns out to receive two thirds of all the lightning strikes in Florida each year, and our heroine soon becomes drawn into the mysteries of lightning: the withering of trees and landscape near a strike, the medical traumas and odd new abilities of victims, the myths of renewal. Although a recluse, she becomes fascinated by a legendary local farmer nicknamed Lazarus Jones, said to have beaten death after a lightning strike: to have seen the other side and come back. The burning match to her cool reserve--her personal unguided tour through Hades--Lazarus will prove to be the talisman that restores her to girlhood innocence and possibility.

Hoffman's story advances with a feline economy of language and movement--not a word spared for the color of the sky, unless the color of the sky factors into the narrative. Among the authors who have played with the fairy tale's harsh mercies (e.g. Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter), Hoffman has the closest understanding of the primal fears that drive the genre, and why, perhaps, we never outgrow fairy stories, but only learn to substitute dull, wholesome qualities like personal initiative or good timing for the elements that raise the hairs on our neck and send us scrambling for the light switch. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. "Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes... burn your tongue the moment they're spoken and you can never take them back." Thus begins Hoffman's (Practical Magic; Here on Earth) stellar 18th novel about healing and transformation. As an eight-year-old, the unnamed narrator makes a terrible wish that comes true; remorseful for the next 30 years, she shuts down emotionally to become a self-proclaimed ice queen. Unlike her brother, Ned, who relies on logic, math and science to make sense of the world, the loner librarian fears the chaotic randomness of existence and is obsessed by death. Then lightning strikes, literally. In a flash, she's jolted out of her rut, noticing for the first time all that she's been taking for granted—even the color red, which after the strike she can no longer see: "How could I have been so stupid to ignore everything I'd had in my life? The color red alone was worth kingdoms." The novel turns sultry when the slowly melting ice queen seeks out reclusive Lazarus Jones, a fellow lightning survivor who came back to life after 40 minutes of death: "I wanted a man like that, one it was impossible to kill, who wouldn't flinch if you wished him dead." Blanketed in prose that has never been dreamier and gloriously vivid imagery, this life-affirming fable is ripe with Hoffman's trademark symbolism and magic, but with a steelier edge: "Every fairy tale had a bloody lining. Every one had teeth and claws." Both longtime fans and newcomers will relish it. Agent, Elaine Markson. 10-city author tour. (Apr. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316154385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316154383
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been an Alice Hoffman fan since TURTLE MOON. While some of her later efforts have left me a bit flat, THE ICE QUEEN grabbed me and held on until the very last word on the very last page.

An almost invisible librarian from New Jersey lives an almost invisible life, carefully removing herself from any emotional attachments after the death of her mother when she was a young girl.

Her older brother, Ned, is her portal to the outside world. When their grandmother dies, Ned moves her to Florida, where's he's a married professor.

On a particulary hot day, the librarian (whose name is never given) survives a direct hit by lightning. She reluctantly agrees to become part of a study with other lightning strike survivors. She hears of a man named Lazarus Jones . . . nicknamed so because he was apparently dead for 40 minutes after a lightning strike, woke up, and simply walked out the hospital.

Our ice queen is compelled to find Lazarus Jones and hear his side of the story. Jones, it seems, is still burning (literally) from the strike, while our heroine's world has gone cold and gray (literally).

One of the wonderful things about reading anything Hoffman writes is that you must suspend your traditional beliefs and abandon universal truths to completely "get" her stories.

I read the book in one sitting. Mystical. Intriguing. Thought-provoking. Ultimately satisfying.

Yep. That's Hoffman at her best.

Enjoy!!
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Format: Hardcover
Alice Hoffman has always been a master of character development, and she continues to weave her magic in this electrifying novel. The main character, a self-punishing librarian, takes the reader on a fascinating journey of forgiveness and self-realization. Along the way she learns that things are not always as they seem, and "truths" on which a life is based, may not be true at all. This beautifully written story will be enjoyed by all Hoffman fans. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
Death is the subject. Not the kind that appears after years and years, almost welcome, but death that snatches loved ones away, leaving survivors to deal with the shock of loss. The girl in the story is eight when she makes her first fateful wish, resentful that her mother is leaving for the evening. The mother dies in an accident and the girl (who remains nameless throughout) believes she caused her mother's death. She turns herself into ice in an effort to avoid any more pain.

Later, when the woman's brother, Ned, moves his sister to Florida from New Jersey, the thirty-something woman remains as frozen and isolated as a princess in a fairy tale. Carelessly, she makes another fateful wish, to be struck by lightning. Viola! Once more her wish is granted. Now a survivor of a lightning strike, like others gathered for a scientific study, the woman has great difficulty returning to a normal life. But this lady has already marked herself, believing she has the ability to wish away life or bring on a lightning strike.

Through her meetings with other survivors, the woman, like a turtle, gradually pokes her head out to notice the others who inhabit the world, even in this bizarre situation. Piqued by curiosity about a man who is dead for forty minutes before returning to life, she follows an impulse to meet Lazarus Jones. They are opposites, he fire and she ice. They meet in the dark, igniting each other, a combustible romance that cannot last but is impossible to resist.

The woman's long, slow awakening is the theme of the novel, her quest to understand death and free herself from the restraints that have turned her life into a hollow shell: "The way to trick death. Breathe in. Breathe out.
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Format: Hardcover
Clever and beautiful Alice Hoffman's The Ice Queen is an exploration into the human psyche. Having moments of sheer brilliance the characters of this work come to life in a masterful way.

After the loss of her mother when she was a child, a loss she blames herself for as one could think only a child could, the protagonist becomes rigid and emotionally devoid. Her reaction is understandably modern response as many today insulate themselves into not feeling anything rather than feeling both pleasure and pain. It is also the response found often in traumatized children. However some of the themes of this book actually harken back to the works of the ancient Greeks.

Her brother becomes a meteorologist in contrast to "the ice queen" and here we have two approaches to our lives: the logical and the mystical.

However her wishes again become reality as an adult when she is struck by lightening. So is the ice queen omnipotent or hounded by the Furies?

First believing she caused a death, then as an adult surviving death she find herself seeking out a man nicknamed "Lazerus" who was also struck by lightening. Ah, the Gods!

Through it all the ice queen journeys on a path of enlightenment.

This is my first exposure to Alice Hoffman's work and I find it both enchanting and intellectually satisfying. A Jungian fairy tale that I recommend.
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