Critically acclaimed author Matthew J. Kirby deftly weaves a stunning coming-of-age tale with chilling cleverness and subtle suspense that will leave readers racing breathlessly to the end.
Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig--along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors--anxiously awaits news of her father's victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. Solveig must also embark on a journey to find her own path. Yet, a malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, as a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.
Those charged with protecting the king's children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father's watchful eye? Can Solveig survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he manages to destroy a kingdom?
Kirby follows The Clockwork Three with a tense mystery that blends history and Norse myth. Solveig the plain and oft-ignored second daughter to a king away at war has been sent to safety high in the fjords, along with her siblings, beautiful Asa and future heir Harald, and others loyal to her father. As winter closes in, food grows scarce, and tempers flare. When tragedy strikes, it becomes clear that one among them is a traitor. Their only diversion comes from the stories told by Alric, the resident skald, who takes on Solveig as an apprentice. With her ability to spin tales and find the truth, can Solveig uncover the traitor? Kirby turns in a claustrophobic, thought-provoking coming-of-age adventure that shows a young woman growing into her own, while demonstrating the power of myth and legend. Kirby's attention to detail and stark descriptions make this an effective mood piece. Readers may be drawn in by the promise of action, which Kirby certainly fulfills, but they'll be left contemplating the power of the pen versus the sword or rather the story versus the war hammer. Ages 8 12.