Of late, I have been captivated by Scandinavian literature. I love the sense of place, the cold, the darkness of the settings. While I had read some Scandinavian authors years ago, it was the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson that brought me back. I discovered the series by watching the first movie in an old theatre with sticky floors that shows mostly independent films. It was the original Swedish version with Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth. The sense of place of the Swedish landscape and the complexity of the characters were so palpable I could almost touch them. I immediately found all the books and devoured them. I’ve been on a Scandinavian literature kick since.
I had not heard of Camilla Läckberg but thought I would give her a try. The Ice Princess is Camilla Läckberg’s first novel – her first four novels have been bestsellers in Sweden. I like that the novel plunges you right into the thick of things in the opening pages. A man checking on a neighbor’s house during a cold winter finds a dead woman sitting in a frozen tub, with icicles hanging from her hair, and one of her arms dangling over the edge with frozen blood pooled on the floor.
The rest of the story unwinds to reveal characters that seem real with human foibles and redeeming qualities. You meet Erica, whose parents have just died and who is in town to pack up their home. There’s a sibling rivalry between Erica and her little sister, Anna, who seems to tense up around her husband. There’s Superintendent Mellberg, the incompetent bureaucrat and chief of police; and Patrick Hedström, the detective who just wants to solve the crime. There’s a murderer. And there’s Alex, the ice princess, who happened to be one of Erica’s childhood friends.
One of my favorite parts of this novel is the setting. All of Läckberg’s novels take place in the remote fishing village of Fjällbacka on Sweden’s west coast. Fjällbacka is the author’s birthplace and she seems to know the town’s roads with all its twists and turns very well. As I read the novel, phrases like “15 degrees below zero” stayed with me. This is Fjällbacka in winter.
I highly recommend reading The Ice Princess. It will draw you in immediately with solid character development, an element of mystery, and a chilly setting to get you through these hot summer months.
My Review ★★★★☆