By Matthew J. Kirby, read by Jenna Lamia
Published 2011 by Scholastic Audio
Trapped in a fortress while their father is at war, Solveig and her siblings discover treachery in their midst. They must use their cunning and skills to survive the harsh Nordic winter and the malevolence that has found them in their icy prison.
That is an incredibly dramatic summary I posted there. Well, this book caught my eye because it won the Edgar Award for Juvenile Fiction. I saw the audio version available for download from my library, so I went ahead and downloaded. I think this book worked exceptionally well in the audio format, as a large plot point of the story revolves around storytelling and Solveig finding her voice. Kirby has created an incredibly believable and fascinating world for his story - the book actually takes place a very long time ago in Scandinavia. It's clear that Kirby has done research - I could feel the chill of the frozen fortress and the terror as the winter set in and immobilized the characters. The book is plotted exceptionally well - the right amount of tension and slow reveal kept me eager to know what would happen next. And, while I did figure out bits and pieces of the mystery before they were revealed, I think there is enough suspicion cast on many characters to keep kids guessing. Solveig is a wonderful narrator, struggling to find her voice in the midst of this chaotic moment in which she finds herself. I have taken more and more notice of sibling relationships in the books I read and I think this book handles them quite nicely. There is a good mixture of annoyance and love when Solveig talks about her siblings and it feels very real. I loved the relationship that develops between Solveig and her raven, as well as the slow and hesitant trust between the royal children and the Berserkers. This book was a surprise for me - truly well-crafted and engaging adventure with Norse mythology brilliantly mixed in. I will definitely be recommending this to my tween fantasy lovers.