Daughter of Fire and Ice

Written by Marie-Louise Jensen
Review by Julie Parker

This story begins in Viking Norway where Thora, a young girl skilled in healing, is taken from her family by Bjorn Svanson, a local Viking chieftain who has angered the king with his demands and intends fleeing to Iceland. Thora’s father owes tribute to Svanson but he takes Thora instead with her box of dried herbs and medicinal plants. Thora provides a strong narrative viewpoint. She is taken, along with a slave, to Svanson’s boats at the fjord. The slave kills Svanson and takes his identity along with his boats and the other slaves on board, and they set off to Iceland.

Thora possesses a useful ability in seeing people’s auras which manifest themselves in varying colours. As well as a healer, she is a seer and has visions of what is to come. By these means she knows who to trust and is a useful person to have around.

Some of the chapters bear the name of seasons, such as Chapter One which is Midsummer or Midsumar, in the Viking fashion. An introductory historical note explains the naming of seasons from the old Icelandic calendar and that the names of the characters are taken from the oral genealogies handed down through the generations. The author spent two months in Iceland researching the book and the convincing topographical and historical detail is evidence of this.

The use of language is appropriate for the contemporary reader, with appropriate references to the Viking gods and belief in blood sacrifice. The plot is excellently constructed, giving the reader a true sense of strangeness as the travellers encounter earthquakes and volcanoes. I think this book would appeal especially to teenage girls and readers will look forward to the author’s next Viking story.