Thursday, November 10, 2011

Postcard Friday: Iceland and Other Icy Lands

Katie takes on a real adventure today, to Iceland! Take a look at a few books that might transport you as well.
Katie and the Ice Cave
I used to dread the arrival of the colder months, but I have to admit they are starting to grow on me. So much so that this past September I went to Iceland, jumping head first into wintery weather only to immediately fall in love with all things icy, cold, isolated, and northerly. So as an excuse to share some of my photos, here is a round up of a few of my favorite books set in icy climates:

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
One of the reasons I can’t wait to go back to Iceland is because is because I didn’t get to see the fjords in the north. In Icefall, Princess Solveig along with her brother the crown prince and their older sister are trapped in a fjord under a glacier. The royal siblings came to this hidden locale with Solveig’s best friend and a group of soldiers to escape the dangers of their father’s war, but it soon becomes apparent that danger has followed them and that a traitor is in their midst. Rich in Nordic myth and suspense, this is the sort of book that will appeal to a wide audience. Solveig is a compelling heroine--the middle child, overlooked by her father, and skeptical of her own gifts--who teaches everyone around her the value of courage and kindness and the transforming power of storytelling. I can only hope that Matthew Kirby allows us to return with Solveig to the icy north for future adventures.
View of Reykjavik
 East by Edith Pattou
Set in Norway, East is my favorite retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun West of the Moon. It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one, so I’m relying on a Booklist review to give you the details (otherwise this review will be less about the plot and more just three words: “I loved it.”): When Rose is almost 15, a white bear appears at the door, asking Father to turn over his youngest daughter. The animal carries Rose to a distant castle, where she lives contentedly. Every night, a mysterious visitor climbs into her bed and hides under the covers. Is it the bear? Is it the scaly monster she sees in her dreams? She feels she must know. Unfortunately, her willfulness seals the fate of her nighttime visitor, who falls into the hands of the patient Troll Queen and is whisked away to ‘an unreachable place.’ Guilt sets in, and Rose begins a long, arduous journey to right the wrong she has done. What ensues is the stuff of epic tale telling, replete with high drama and compelling characterizations.”
The Solheimajokull glacier

First Light by Rebecca Stead
In the summer months, you can take day trips to Greenland from Iceland, so I would be remiss if I didn’t include First Light in this roundup. Peter finds himself in Greenland with his scientist parents while his father conducts research on glaciers. Thea lives in a secret society called Gracehope under the Greenland ice. Alternating between life above the ice and life below the ice, Stead takes us on a grand ride and Thea yearns to see the sun and return her people to the world above the ice as Peter grapples with headaches that seem to have followed him to this northerly place. When an accidental meetings brings them together, it soon becomes apparent that accident may be just another word for destiny. First Light skillfully whisks the reader away to a remote part of the world, indulges in amazing world creation, and tackles some rather serious ecological issues all at the same time. This book is probably destined to always be overshadowed by When You Reach Me, but readers would be missing out if they skipped over Stead’s debut novel.
Gulfoss (which translates to mean Golden Falls)

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
And finally, maybe Iceland’s greatest claim to worldwide literary fame is as the starting point for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. From the capital city of Reykjavik on a clear day, you can look out over the North Atlantic and see Snæfellsjökul, the extinct volcano where this great journey began. If that doesn’t convince you that Iceland (along with its neighboring northerly neighbors) is pretty dang amazing, nothing will.


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