Featured Review | Our Lady of the Ice – Cassandra Rose Clarke

About the Book

Hope City, Antarctica. The southernmost city in the world, with only a glass dome and a faltering infrastructure to protect its citizens from the freezing, ceaseless winds of the Antarctic wilderness. Within this bell jar four people–some human, some not–will shape the future of the city forever:

Eliana Gomez, a female PI looking for a way to the mainland.

Diego Amitrano, the right-hand man to the gangster who controls the city’s food come winter.

Marianella Luna, an aristocrat with a dangerous secret.

Sofia, an android who has begun to evolve.

But the city is evolving too, and in the heart of the perilous Antarctic winter, factions will clash, dreams will shatter, and that frozen metropolis just might boil over…

432 pages (hardcover)
Published on October 27, 2015
Published by Saga Press
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Our Lady of the Ice intrigued me from the get-go because of that stunning cover. I also read one of the author’s previous books, and absolutely loved it. I had very high hopes for this one, and books that I go into with high hopes, tend to either soar or fail, there rarely is any middle ground.

Our Lady of the Ice is set in an intriguing world, Hope City, Antarctica, a domed city that is both a melting pot, and a rough cut place where the strong survive and crime lords run things. It’s lush and diverse, and there are plenty of problems that impact live in Hope City, like the exploitation of the mainlanders, and the exploitations of the crime bosses. Food is strictly rationed, and passage out of the city is something that people save for years to afford.

That being said, if you’ve made it in Hope City, then you’re golden. You get your own private dome, your own house, your own robots to make your life easier. The social classes are staggeringly different, from cramped quarters in the inner city, where you need to be careful, to your very own dome, complete with your very own private train station, butler and everything else.

Mixed into all of this is a wild range of characters, some carried a bit more of an impact than others. Eliana Gomez is a private investigator, who seems to make it a skill to be purposefully, almost unbelievably, ignorant regarding some of her boyfriend’s darker deeds. Diego was interesting as he is a man that tries to do the right thing, but often doesn’t understand what that “right thing” is, which leads him into dark situations. Marianella Luna is an aristocrat, who took some time to warm up to, but once I had her figured out she quickly became one of my favorite characters, as she had a foot comfortably in both the human and the android world. Sofia is a character that I never really warmed up to all the way. She’s brutal and effective, and provocative as she’s entering evolutionary territory that hasn’t ever been fully explored, but she’s cold and very standoffish.

The situation that has all of these characters woven together is both complex and simple, and not only weaves together many of the characters, but a lot of the social issues that Hope City faces, specifically issues regarding food and electricity. These problems are compelling, not just because they are fundamental to life, but they are also directly impacted by life in Hope City. The crime lord rules the food supply, so when someone decides to try to grow their own food in an agricultural dome, it’s a big deal. It takes away some of his power. And while it might not be a big deal for me to lose electricity at my home, I don’t live in Antarctica, where exposure to the elements could kill a person really fast. On the flip side of that, the wealthy in their own domes don’t generally have issues with food supply, or with electricity.

The plot is fantastic, full of intrigue and slowly unfolding events. Things don’t quite make sense, and it takes time for just about every character to warm up, but quickly they do and things really take off. The inhuman, and the unrelatable quickly become relatable, and surprisingly emotional. Slowly Clark draws together a bunch of different plot threads and powerful ideas to create a book that is both captivating and absolutely impossible to put down. All of the marvelous details she added into her world building weren’t done for entertainment value, most of them play some role in how things unfold, and just what the impact of these things are. Furthermore, it makes events that much more powerful when you realize just how something like the power going out can terrify an entire population.

Our Lady of the Ice takes itself seriously, because it is a serious book. There isn’t much humor or levity to be found in these pages, and it quickly becomes apparent that anything like that would feel wrong. Clark is forcing her characters, and her readers, to attack some weighty topics, and you’ll feel that weight as the book progresses. Furthermore, this book is written to feel like a noir. It’s dirty, gritty, dark, and occasionally oppressive, but incredibly powerful due to that.

Our Lady of the Ice impressed the hell out of me. I couldn’t put it down, and when I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Clark nailed everything about this book, from the world building, to the haunting, intense atmosphere, and the characters that work their way under your skin. This book was powerful, and executed flawlessly. Our Lady of the Ice was one of the best books I’ve read this year.


5/5 stars

One Responses

  • The cover is really scrumptious 😀 Since sci-fi month, I”ve been interested in exploring the topic of evolving AIs so this sounds like something that might be thought-provoking to read.

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