Last night, I stayed up until 2 am finishing "Icefall" by Matthew J. Kirby. When I first picked this YA book up I quickly dubbed it a “boy book” judging by its cover. That’s what I get for generalizing (note the long blond braid on the hooded stranger's shoulder). This is a great read for anyone, boy or girl, because the main character, Solvieg, is a young girl struggling to find her voice in the world, a concept that everyone can relate to.
The plot is cleverly laid out like a Nordic game of Clue, the characters all living together in the Great Hall on a fjord next to the sea, completely isolated from outsiders. Yet, there is a rat, a traitor amongst the tightly knit group and the suspense of identifying the culprit is enough to keep someone up until the wee hours of the morning. What I most loved about the book were the Nordic legends and stories that were seamlessly woven into the overall story as Solveig trains to become a Skald, a storyteller.
As a librarian and storyteller (I would now like to be referred to as a Skald), I enjoyed the process through which Solvieg found her voice, accepted her calling, and became confident with her gift. At one point, one of her comrades tells her, “Sometimes, when we want something so badly, we fear failure more than we fear being without that thing… Above all, be right with yourself”. Kirby shows such insight into the heart of Solveig and the hearts of any reader who may be grappling with accepting who they are and where their talents lie, especially if their talents happen to involve the arts.