“A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.
But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity–that she, in fact, is Lydia–their world comes crashing down once again.
As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, they are forced to confront what really happened on that fateful day.”
Thoughts on the Novel: The loss of a child can and does rip apart families as easily as one can rip a piece of paper. However, how does a family survive such a tragedy when that loss is one-half of a set of identical twins? For a year now, Sarah and Angus must face this exact question as they deal with the ramifications of a tragic accident and the ensuing guilt. Readers know very early in the story that there is more than meets the eye to Sarah’s and Gus’ stories. As they move forward with their lives on the family-owned island in the Hebrides, secrets will out and sanity, or something more sinister, will unravel their lives. They thought they knew tragedy, but in reality, it was only just beginning.
In The Ice Twins, much of the novel revolves around the identity confusion Kirstie or Lydia exhibits and the odd but real possibility that Sarah and Gus buried the wrong child. This is one of those odd scenarios that seem to strange to be true, but when dealing with genetically identical twins, the rules fly out the window. How does one ever know which twin is which? Then there is the issue of loss and ongoing trauma that occurs every time Kirstie or Lydia looks in the mirror and sees, not herself, but her dead twin. That there are no easy answers only adds fuel to Sarah’s paranoia.
Adding to the considerable tension of a fracturing family is the fact that Angus and Sarah are essentially bankrupt. Their move to northern Scotland is a move of desperation not only for their family psyche but also for their finances. The stress of being on the brink of disaster means that not only are there any easy answers but there are no alternatives they to which they can afford to escape. They must deal with the drafty, rat-infested cottage with creepy murals and incessant damp as well as the near constant isolation that is now their life. As such, the emotional suspense is every bit as intense as one would imagine.
What gives The Ice Twins its true power are the emotions of the characters. Gus and Sarah do not hide the fact that they still love and desire each other, but their deeper feelings resulting from the tragedy seem to be impeding them from finding solace in each other’s company. Sarah’s guilt – at not being there to prevent the accident, at not know which twin is still living, at not being able to help the living twin through her grief – is devastatingly real and every bit as intense as the suspense of the story. Gus’ anger, inexplicable but still very much a factor in his state of mind, is palpable and frankly eerie. Readers know that this combination of roiling emotions is a bomb ready to explode. The anticipation of this is what makes the story so difficult to set aside for real life.
The Ice Twins is the best kind of thriller. Not only does it have an excellent story with intense characters, the remote Scottish landscape takes on a life of its own. Sarah’s and Gus’ ongoing emotional trauma at the loss of their daughter is palpable, adding a layer of complexity and heightening the story’s tension. The harrowing conclusion is equal parts tragic and exciting, while the lingering questions that remain solidify the ominous tone of the story. While probably not an ideal beach read, The Ice Twins is still a fantastic story, impulsively readable and one that will grab a reader’s attention until the very end.