The Ice House by Tim Clare

Dense with poetic detail, Tim Clare's The Ice House is a fantasy tale that shines with originality

Book Review by Emily Corpuz | 29 Apr 2019
  • The Ice House
Book title: The Ice House
Author: Tim Clare

Delphine Venner was 13 when she fought to save her world. Over 70 years later, she gets the singular chance of continuing her story and finding the resolution that she was denied.

Tim Clare masterfully brings to life the world of Avalonia. The Ice House is replete with rich and compelling characters, from an assassin named Hagar to adversaries-turned-allies. We’re gripped by Hagar’s mission of vengeance and Delphine’s journey to save the father she thought she lost. This vividness can be traced to Clare’s background in poetry – his precise command of language renders this book a spellbinding read in its best parts.

To this end, this is a poet’s novel – great if you love beautifully-wrought granularity. While the poetic detail builds the world in places, it can at times oversaturate the story, and more restless readers could wish these descriptions were replaced with text that furthered the plot.

Similarly, readers who are new to the story will be most enriched by the evocative world-building; the plot relies on complex character dynamics and conflicts that are not explained thoroughly enough for someone just entering the story to feel invested in what is going on and why. That said, for those who read the first book in Delphine’s story, The Honours, this is an enthralling expansion to the world you already know. Though The Ice House has its foibles, it shines with originality and as a gripping work of fantasy.

Canongate, 2 May, £14.99