Review – The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne

By | February 1, 2015

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past – what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

You’re going to have to trust me on this one. You lose one of your beautiful twin daughters in a freak accident, the remaining twin is having nightmares involving her dead sister and you’re having doubts about her identity, and your marriage perhaps isn’t holding together as well as you want it to. So maybe you just might think twice about moving to a dilapidated cottage on a Scottish island, with a barely working telephone, over-run with rats, and that can only only be reached by boat (a boat you don’t have) or by crossing treacherous mudflats at low tide. 

The absurd thing about this wonderful book is that it all seems quite acceptable – in fact, a wholly understandable attempt at a fresh start. And when things start to turn a little stranger – when the child is found cowering in a corner at the local school, when the dog undergoes a personality change, when the weather gets stormy and strange visions start appearing in mirrors – the book still sweeps you along with it all, sitting on the edge of your seat, feverishly turning the pages to find out what happens next. 

This is a book that really shouldn’t work at all.  In addition to all the strangeness, the book then introduces a child psychologist speculating over the phone about the effects of a sibling death on a surviving twin, and other possible consequences on the family. You might be forgiven for thinking it all sounds a bit ridiculous.

But I have to say it’s honestly one of the most thrilling and gripping books I’ve read in a very long time – everything was put on hold while I read it cover to cover, and in the brief moments I put it down I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s quite superbly done – the writing is very strong and readable, the descriptions of the environment so vivid you can smell and feel it, the supernatural elements wonderfully unsettling and just the right side of both terror and silliness. I absolutely loved every moment.

My thanks to netgalley and publishers HarperCollins UK for my advance reading e-copy. The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne was published in hardback and for kindle on 29th January.

At this point, I’d usually tell you a little about the author – but in this case, I can’t.  S K Tremayne is the pseudonym of a bestselling novelist and award-winning travel writer. He/she is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines around the world, now lives in London, and has two daughters.