Book review: The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

The Ice Twins is one of the books I picked up to try and read outside my comfort zone, and the blurb certainly made it sound interesting. Nearly a year after a twin dies in an accident, the other twin suddenly starts claiming that her parents have mistaken her identity. Yep, interesting.

I was maybe 75 pages in and really not liking it when Cinzia, a friend of my husband, came over for dinner and was raving about how this was so, so good. I told her, “I’m trying to read it, but nothing is happening.” She said, “Yes, it’s slow to start.”

I think we have vastly different tastes and understandings of slow to start, because this book continues to grind on and on for roughly half its length before it decides to attempt shifting into second gear. And it fails and slips back into first before making another attempt one hundred pages later. It doesn’t help that the whole book is one long struggle with unreliable narration, or that the book has some really strange choices about comma and colon placement that had my inner editor making baffled sounds like “buh-wha-da-fu-is-dis-shi?”

That blurb gave me the impression that this was a happy family until the accident, but much like most of the book, that’s a lie. This was an unhappy family long before the death of Lydia Moorcroft. Sarah and Angus are now close to openly hostile to each other even as they talk about wanting to start over and patch things up, and it’s not until very late in the book until their various sins are brought to light. To be sure, once it’s clear they’re both assholes, I had an even harder time caring what happened to them. Angus’ unreliable narration even makes their daughter come out looking like shit, and in the end, it turns out she wasn’t half as bad as his story made her out to be. He’s constantly saying or thinking things that made me think “Well, that’s certainly ominous.” But it’s all pointless misdirection, an artistic attempt at making a pair of shitty people seem more interesting than they really are.

At least with Sarah, I could feel some sympathy for her problems, but Angus didn’t help himself because everything he says is often soon thereafter revealed to be a lie. So even if he eventually must be telling the truth, it’s all but impossible to believe him. He’s an alcoholic asshole, a constant liar, and he’s just…so…angry, but can’t be bothered to let the reader in on the joke, even in his private thoughts, until the very end of the book.

Starting somewhere around the middle of the book, the story drags on with this question “Is it really a ghost haunting the family?” There’s lots of “spooky” events and spooked people suggesting it might be, and then the ending goes for what some will think is a clever twist, but just made me sigh. I’d complain about it in detail, but I’ll just leave this one spoiler free. Maybe you’ll like it and think it’s clever. I felt it was cliched.

To me, there’s so much fluff and filler here that I just didn’t care about. I slogged on thinking it had to get better if Cinzia was gushing over it so much, but nothing in the story clicked for me. I felt nothing for the characters, or even the writing style, although the subversion of the style for the last chapter’s twist was….irksome. I didn’t quite hate the story, but I never felt invested in it, either. I’m just glad it’s over and I can move on to reading something I might actually enjoy.

I’ll give The Ice Twins 2 stars. They call this a Thriller, but to me it ought to be filed in a new genre, “Needless Melodrama.”