See this review over a Kara's blog, Great Imaginations!I like to read about things I enjoy. But when it comes to things I love, I tend to steer clear. Like Norse mythology and Vikings.I find that I am super protective of anything relating to Scandinavia, and to save the author from a poor review and myself of some rage, I just avoid the genre. However, when I saw this one at my local library, I was sorely tempted by the description, and by the cover (I know- deadly road to walk).I am so happy that I read this book. It is beautiful. Soveig and her royal siblings struggle to solve a deadly mystery while waiting for winter to release the waters of the fjord and return them back to their kingdom. The plot was a tightly-woven suspenseful journey. However, it was the underlying messages that made this book shine. Beauty comes from within Yes, this message has been beat into our heads from the moment any child picks up a book, but Icefall points out HOW and WHY inner beauty is better. Solveig often envies her elder sister, Asa, for her Nordic beauty and inherited attraction, but her sister lacks integrity. Asa flat out tells Solveig that the beauty of the mind, wisdom and courage, will not fade like external splendor. Personality qualities remain when youth disappears. The qualities of the men, such as the Berserker Captain Hake, glorifies that your heart, not your face, is the real meaning of beautiful. Love and characterKirby shares a story centered around paternal and protective love instead of strictly relying on romantic love. Yes, I want to see love and passion in the books I read, but it becomes so commonplace that I find that I grow cynical at times. Icefall points out that love is not just a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Love is so much more than amour. We all need bonds that stand separate from flirtation and sweetheart promises; we need love of fellowship and family.Icefall incorporates character into the novel as well. Doing what is expected or safe is not always the right thing to do. As Shakespeare states: "To thy own self be true." The sacrifices and discoveries made by all of the characters in the novel challenges the reader to think about the importance of your own morals, and what they are worth. Is it worth dying by remaining yourself? Is it better to live a lie and survive to see another day? What makes you who you are? Norse mythology and writingThe Vikings were not just savage humans who ransacked most of modern Europe. The Norse were also lovers of words and stories, and Kirby just flat out did an outstanding job of using this forgotten tradition. The writing and the similes did not stand out as forced prose and flimsy comparisons. Kirby used a wonderful sense of language and imagery to drive his message home. Stories keep us hopeful and strong. Tales and songs can heal wounds. Solveig and her own journey to become something more than herself played up the idea that it is the audience, the listener, the reader and the dreamer that feed on the words and imagination of the storyteller.Norse mythology and symbolism, thankfully, was well respected by the author, and he spoke to the reader as if they were already well versed in such knowledge. Side note: if you do not have a fairly sensible background knowledge of Norse mythology, this story might seem a bit confusing.I would highly recommend this book to all of my Viking lovers. The characters were great, the writing was sophisticated and properly accomplished, and the struggles of a girl looking for her own beauty struck a soft spot for any girl who dreams of beauty and self-worth.