Title: The Ice Twins
Author: S.K. Tremayne
Sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads)
A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft 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, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past – what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of going to Scotland, particularly the far north of the country, you’ll know that it’s a strange, beautiful and haunting place. The extremes of weather give it an untamed ruggedness that adds to the slightly eerie, creepy atmosphere. You could believe it was a place where the veil between worlds was thin. You could believe that it’s haunted, even as the wilderness stuns you with its beauty.
It’s an apt setting, then, for this haunting tale of mistaken identity, repressed memory, grief and death. Tremayne’s Scotland leaps off the page with its biting cold, hostile weather and short, dark days. I sat in bed reading it and shivering. In fact, the setting is perhaps the strongest part of the story – providing external conflict to perfectly match the internal conflict experienced by the characters.
And what an internal conflict. I don’t think I’ve read a greater premise in the last few months that this one – an identical twin dies, and you don’t know which one is left behind. Have no way of telling. It’s a horrific thought that we could be confused by the identity of someone so close to you. I’ve known a few identical twins, and it can be next to impossible to physically tell them apart – and the ones I’ve known have had a few more years than Lydia and Kirstie to gain imperfections and differences. The idea that Kirstie/Lydia’s identity starts to blur around the edges – bringing back all the guilt and the horror of her twin’s death – is a truly spooky horror concept, that tips this book from flat thriller into the horror genre on a number of occasions.
What prevented it from being a five star read for me was two things – one, the perspective changes, though kind of necessary for the story, took the momentum out of Sarah’s descent into madness. I loved being trapped inside Sarah’s consciousness, experiencing her confusion and her isolation. I just felt this would have been more complete had the reader not always known more than her because of the brief forays into Angus’ perspective. I wanted to be more frightened – wanted a greater sense of suspense that would have come from having certain facts withheld.
Two, I found myself flicking forwards in the book to see what happened next. This is likely linked to the previous point, but I can’t in good faith give a book 5 stars if I’ve been peeking ahead to see when something else is going to start happening.
So, even though this was a brilliant concept with some chilling writing, a couple of flaws prevent it from being a full 5 star, but it’s certainly an excellent four star read, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes their thrillers with a bit of horror.