Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Winter's Tale

Before there was Frozen, there was The Snow Queen (Thistledown Press  2004 ) --  now available  as  an e-book

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Snowdrifts clung to the window ledges of the Snow Queen's palace. The tall arched panes glittered with a wintry, ice-blue light. The great doors of crystal and silver stood ajar, unguarded; a powdering of snow filmed the milk-white marble tiles of the courtyard within.

No hearthfires burned in those vast, chill rooms -- only the cold and eerie flames of the aurora borealis, blazing down through crystal skylights, flickering across the icy floors. They could hear the faint glassy tinkle of chandeliers, the whistling of the wind down endless, empty halls. There was a kind of music too -- high, keening, crystalline notes infinitely, piercingly sustained, like tones struck on a goblet's rim. The sound was like a knife blade in the base of Gerda's skull.   She clapped her hands over her ears to shut it out.

Nothing had prepared Gerda for a palace so magnificent -- and so utterly devoid of warmth and comfort. No one human could live in this place, she thought.

From a review of The Snow Queen by Denise Dumars:

In her version of The Snow Queen, Eileen Kernaghan takes us to another time and to a place few of us will ever visit: the far northern reaches of Scandinavia, where the glacial ice is blue and the northern lights color the sky in rainbow hues and where the cold is, for many of us, almost unimaginable....

Kernaghan uses the Andersen tale as a starting point for her story and takes it farther. The character only known as 'the robber girl' in Andersen's tale is here called Ritva, and Gerda and Ritva form an uneasy friendship. Ritva, whose relationship with her mother in the Andersen tale can only be described as dysfunctional, is here the unhappy heir to her mother's psychic powers. Meanwhile, Ritva's mother's psychic visions are starting to appear to Ritva, and it is clear that when her mother passes on she will take her place as the tribe's shaman, whether she wants to or not. So when Gerda asks her to help continue her journey and save Kai, she jumps at the chance to get away for a while and have an adventure....

Along the way we see the extraordinary strangeness of the far northern clime, and learn the ways of the Saami people's mysticism. It is this glimpse into a completely alien world contained right here within our own that makes this story so special.