I'm always roaming the shelves hoping to discover a good new book, and the other day I picked one out just because it had a great cover. It turned out to be one of the best books I've read in years. Icefall by Matthew Kirby is set in a time and place that could be the distant past or a Viking-like fantasy realm with touches of Beowulf.
The story is told from the point of view of Solveig, the younger daughter of a Viking king. She and her pretty older sister, along with her brother (heir to the throne), have been sent into hiding for safety's sake while her father wages war with a rival king. Solveig becomes the storyteller's apprenctice and hones her skills in the great hall on the long, cold nights. As winter isolates them, tensions grow when food runs short and a sinister threat appears from the forest--and from a traitor in their midst. This is a story about friendship, courage, loyalty ... and betrayal. It's also a story about being true to oneself and one's talents, for ultimately it is up to Solveig to lead them--not with a sword but with the power of her storyteller's words.
A lot of boys don't like to read books that have a girl as the main character, but guy readers will relate to the tomboyish Solveig along with the Viking warriors and battle scenes. I suspect that for marketing purposes this book was aimed at tweens and younger teens, but adults won't be able to put it down.
Recommended by David Healey