The Ice Twins

‘You keep saying she’s dead but she comes back to play with me, she was here, she was at school, she plays with me, she is my sister, it doesn’t matter if she’s dead, she’s still here, still here, I’m here, we are here – why do you keep saying we’re dead, when we’re not we’re not we’re not.’

This was a fantastically atmospheric book about mistaken twin identities, fraught with tension. I absolutely loved the depiction of a family broken apart by grief, and the portrait of a marriage simmering w

‘You keep saying she’s dead but she comes back to play with me, she was here, she was at school, she plays with me, she is my sister, it doesn’t matter if she’s dead, she’s still here, still here, I’m here, we are here – why do you keep saying we’re dead, when we’re not we’re not we’re not.’

This was a fantastically atmospheric book about mistaken twin identities, fraught with tension. I absolutely loved the depiction of a family broken apart by grief, and the portrait of a marriage simmering with resentment and suspicion. Unlike another book about twins (which we shall never mention again), the setup for mistaken identities in this book was altogether believable.

‘Mummy, why do you keep calling me Kirstie?’I say nothing. The silence is ringing. I speak:‘Sorry, sweetheart. What?’

‘Why do you keep calling me Kirstie, Mummy? Kirstie is dead. It was Kirstie that died. I’m Lydia.’

Sarah and Angus had the perfect marriage, the picture-perfect family with beautiful blonde identical twin daughters, Lydia and Kirstie. This is in the past tense, because as we start the book, this beautiful family is in pieces. Their daughter Lydia is dead, fallen off a balcony in a tragic accident. The family has since unraveled. Angus (Gus) has lost his job. Everyone goes through the grieving process differently, and Gus took his out through anger, specifically, through punching his boss. Consequently, he lost his job, and they're on the verge of bankruptcy.

Through a bit of luck, Angus has inherited an old house on a deserted Scottish isle. It is miles from nowhere, totally secluded. They will be completely isolated but with each other for company. It could be a place for healing, but there are hidden dangers to a place so distant from society...

‘In Skye, no one can hear you scream: half the houses along the shore are empty. Holiday

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homes. In winter the tide will come in, cold and lethal: you’d drown.’

It's not like they have a choice, because this really is their last resort. No money. Barely existing due to their grief. Kirstie, Sarah, and Angus have no other choice.

As if the move isn't bad enough, Angus and Sarah as faced with the question of which twin actually died. Was it Sarah or Kirstie? In their grief, they never thought to question the fact that the surviving twin declared that it was her sister who died. No fingerprints were taken. And now they're left with a daughter who insists that she is her dead sister.

Kirstie starts howling: she falls back onto the bed, flailing her arms, tantruming like a two-year-old. Her scream is terrible and rending, her wails are desperate; but I can distinctly hear the words:
‘Mummy? Mummy? Mummy? Who am I?’
And now Sarah is left alone to deal with her daughter's grief...and maybe something else.
There’s a folded note on the bed. A note?My heart sends out the alarm. The note has big childish letters on the front.To Mummy.My fingers are trembling – and I am not sure why – when I open the note and read. And now my heart trembles, too.

Mummy. She is in here with us. Kirstie.

Child psychologists can offer their opinions as much as they want, but they don't have to live with a child who is slowly going mad, and her parents, who are, in their own way, going mad, too. Sarah and Angus' marriage is unraveling fast. Sarah is filled with resentment towards her husband, and he is filled with anger towards his wife...an anger that threatens to overflow into violence.
He’d loved her too, loved her just as much as Sarah. Yet somehow his grief was deemed as lesser? Somehow the mother’s grief was seen as more important: she was the one allowed to crack up, she was the one given permission to cry, she was the one allowed to agonize for months about her favourite. OK, he’d lost his job, but he’d kept looking for more work through the agony and almost none of it was his fault. This was the enraging thing. She was far more to blame, infinitely more. He wanted to hurt his wife for what happened. Punish her. Hurt her badly.

Why not? His daughter was dead.

The book isn't perfect, but it was altogether enjoyable and kept me guessing til the end. ...more


Category: Review

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