The Ice House by Tim Clare.
Cannongate, H/B, £14.99.
Reviewed by Steve Dean.
Delphine Venner is an old woman, living out her last years, drinking cognac and co-habiting with a creature from another world. Just when she’s settled down with a good book, Delphine is kidnapped by a shadowy organisation and forced through a portal into another dimension. (Don’t you just hate it when that happens?) There, she finds herself returned to youth, strong and capable, and surrounded by old friends and enemies. But it seems she’s no more than a pawn in a larger game, one which will get her killed.
Like most of these through the magic portal stories, the world on the other side is a fantasy setting filled strange creatures, magic and the all-important war against evil. The writing is actually fairly competent, but it’s not Tolkien by any measure. The story jumps about between timelines and realities, sometimes making it difficult to follow. I found most of the flashbacks pointless, not adding much to the story.
When it comes to world-building, if you’ve read any fantasy novels at all, nothing here will surprise you. There are fantasy races and the discrimination that goes with it, a pseudo-medieval setting, and the usual motley crew of heroes with secrets of their own.
Overall, I found this book nearly good, almost a decent read, but it was lacking by a few percent in each department. It needed a stronger and less messy plot, better, and fewer, characters, and a cleaner, less fuzzy ending. For me this one was a bit average, but I would certainly read another book by this author.