The Ice Queen: A Novel

The Ice Queen: A Novel -  Alice Hoffman "The Ice Queen" marks my first read from Alice Hoffman. Overall, I have to say that it was a good read, so much so that it surprised me. Given that the protagonist isn't the most likable character to follow at first, it more than surprised me when I found myself endearingly following her through her experiences, loves, and on the road to recovery from tragedies in this book. Granted, there's just a smidge of mystical elements that give the story a poetic quality, but I would note this isn't a story for everyone.The novel revolves around a woman who blames herself for events beyond her control - in particular her mother's death at a very young age. She ultimately wallows in such a depression through her life that one would likely be repelled by her in the first several pages alone. Let it be known that I didn't necessarily like the protagonist at this point, but I did like the style of the prose and how true it could be for someone like the protagonist to have those self-defeating thoughts and actions. However, things hit a turning point after she's struck by lightning in a freak event - leading to her connection in a recovery group designed for survivors. The people she meets as a result of that and how events unfold thereafter are the building blocks for the story that progresses. The latter was what really pulled me into the story, and I saw the growth in the protagonist, though she does retain quite a bit of her bite. Part of me liked the way the characters were handled and how their relationships had weighted significance, the other part of me loved the bits of mystical elements that were peppered in to make it that much more.On the contrary, some elements of the book I didn't like were that it did tend to drag its feet in terms of the pacing and the measure that there wasn't a build up to much greater other than the character's own realization of events. The nameless protagonist (which suggests some measure of disconnect akin to what she feels in the story) does tend to be off-putting in her aloofness and self-deprecation. However, the story does have one central message - that sometimes we have to balance looking at ourselves and what lies beyond us in order to understand the whole of the world we live in.I'll certainly check into Hoffman's other works to see what she has to offer, but this was an engaging read that had me through most of the time I read it, despite a few caveats.Overall score: 3/5