Monday, December 6, 2021

The Ice Coven - Max Seeck

Summary: Six months have passed since Jessica's encounter with the mysterious serial-killing coven of witches and the death of her mentor Erne. Her nightmares about her mother and the witchcraft that undid her have only gotten worse, but she's doing what she can to stay focused. Her homicide squad, now under new leadership, has been given a murder case and a new series of disappearances to investigate. A young woman's corpse has washed up on an icy beach, and two famous Instagram influencers have gone missing at the same time.

The missing influencers and the murdered woman all have ties to a sinister cult. Jessica finds an eerie painting--of a lighthouse on a frigid island--as she investigates and under the picture is a gruesome poem detailing a murder. The nightmares about her dead mother have intensified and seem all too real, making Jessica wonder if the woman might be trying to tell her something about the killings. And as Jessica works frantically to solve her latest case, her terrifying past and the coven of witches that almost killed her shockingly reemerge and threaten to destroy her. (Summary and pic from

My Review: This is the only time I’ll say this so don’t worry. I’m not going to keep whining. But this has nothing to do with witches. I was led astray. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but the title and the description on the back led me to believe that I would be reading about witches whereas now I realize that maybe this was literally lost in translation as this book is a Scandinavian crime novel that has been translated for the enjoyment of English-speaking audiences. That is all. Do not be like me and think that you’ll be reading about witches because you won’t be. Women do not automatically equal witches to me. There are women in this book. They don’t appear to be witches.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Scandinavian crime book. There is usually a lot of violence and that violence is not only extreme, but also almost excessively described. There is also usually a lot of sex, and some of it violent and non-consensual. Despite what you may think from the kinds of books I like, I don’t always enjoy reading about these kinds of things. I do enjoy some good crime reading, as any normal person does, but I have to vary it and read some different things in between. I am happy to report that this book was actually on the lighter side of violence and sex. There was violence, but it wasn’t meticulously reported. This book is about prostitution (which is legal in Finland), but there is prostitution that is also taken to the extreme, and you will know what that means when you read this book. Surprisingly, neither of these are descriptive to the point of discomfort or disgust, and I actually really liked that. I like my crime reading to not make me sick to my stomach (and I have a pretty high tolerance because I do like a good crime mystery).

I encountered the normal problems that I think may come from an English reader like me when reading Nordic noir—the place names are completely unfamiliar and almost unreadable. Some of the names are difficult as well. However, I found the place names to not be essential enough that I missed something (or if I did, I guess I didn’t even know) and the names were either American-looking (maybe they were translated, because there were definitely American names) or they different enough from each other that I was able to tell what was going on, so I appreciated that.

This was a twisty-turny story that keeps you guessing until the end. I don’t try to solve murder mysteries when I read them, rather, I just try to enjoy and let the story take me along. The story was layered and nuanced, and although the characters weren’t necessarily deeply explored, there was enough information given and them fleshed out enough that the story worked.

If you like the Scandinavian crime novels but maybe are leery of the violence and sexual content, this book is for you. It’s a good mystery with all the grit but minus the excessive description and violent sex.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: As far as the genre, this book is light. There is violence and one sex scene, but it is not a violent sex scene. The violence is not overly described.

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