A fellow Boston author delivers a subtle, powerful blockbuster
Ah, the thrill of discovering a new voice, a new read. A really good read. I’m sitting in my “Florida room,” as screen porches are called here (yes, in Florida) watching a great thunderstorm outside, thinking how nice it is to be in 78-degree weather while reading about how cold it is in Greenland, where Erica Ferencik’s novel is set. Heck, it isn’t very warm in Boston, either.
I imagine Ms. Ferencik visited Greenland to research her novel, and let’s get that straight right now. Once I’d finished my reading, I noticed a few Amazon reviewers sniffing at the improbability of finding someone alive after having been frozen in a glacier, then thawed out. Yet these individuals are clearly asking fiction to mirror nonfiction, an assumption that never should be assumed. Of course the shaky bridge between the two has been shortened, in particular by the advent of movies, but still . . . . Ms. Ferencik’s work of fiction meets my singular, paramount criteria: It is a good story, well told.
At the outset we have Valerie, an heroic woman who leave the comforts of her home, professorship and neuroses to set out on an adventure which is nothing less than a Homeric odyssey. She is courageous beyond even what she thinks she’s capable of. Val tells her own story, giving us insight into herself as well as the experiences of her journey to a bleak, cold land where freezing to death takes mere minutes. She not only wants to reveal the mystery of an eight-year-old girl’s having been discovered frozen in glacial ice, but also the true circumstances of her twin brother’s death. Against all odds. And there are many.
Ferencik never drops the ball, never lapses in sustaining tension or interest. The story is credible: no logic bombs, as I call them. She skillfully weaves the experiences and emotions of a woman fraught with personal issues who is striving to become her better self, in service not just to science but to the humans around her. In this respect she rises above most of the authors writing suspense and thriller novels, who don’t, or can’t, portray the person inside the heroic shell. Girl in Ice is exemplary writing, the kind that doesn’t come easily and which exhibits a level of attention to detail and commitment to rewriting again and again to bring out the depths of both character and story.
Bravo, Ms. Ferencik. I look forward to reading more of your fiction.