The Ice Queen: A Novel

by Alice Hoffman

Hardcover, 2005

Call number




Little, Brown and Company (2005), Edition: First Edition, 224 pages


Fantasy. Fiction. Literature. Romance. HTML:From the bestselling author of The Rules of Magic, a miraculous, enthralling tale of a woman who is struck by lightning, and finds her frozen heart is suddenly burning. Be careful what you wish for. A woman who was touched by tragedy as a child now lives a quiet life, keeping other people at a cool distance. She even believes she wants it that way. Then one day she utters an idle wish and, while standing in her house, is struck by lightning. But instead of ending her life, this cataclysmic event sparks a strange and powerful new beginning. She goes in search of Lazarus Jones, a fellow survivor who was struck dead, then simply got up and walked away. Perhaps this stranger who has seen death face to face can teach her to live without fear. When she finds him, he is her perfect opposite, a burning man whose breath can boil water and whose touch scorches. As an obsessive love affair begins between them, both hide their most dangerous secrets�??what happened in the past that turned one to ice and the other to fire. A magical story of passion, loss, and renewal, The Ice Queen is Alice Hoffman at her electrifying be… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Liciasings
Alice Hoffman is a captivating author. This is a compassionate, enchanting story. Gentle, dark, sad; Touched with redemption, love, hope; full of fairy tales and tragedy, lightning strikes, struggles, healing. I like the way you think the character's thoughts and feel what she feels as she
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processes and grows and learns. Beautiful language and deep thoughts on life and death. Good read.
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LibraryThing member pumpernickleme
I get it. He's fire, you're ice, you're upset about your mom. I GET IT!!!

I couldn't finish this one. Icky.
LibraryThing member bertonek
Some intriguing characters, but not a very memorable story.
LibraryThing member susiesharp
I liked how this book started out but it seemed to fall apart in the middle with all the sex ,yes I know its supposed be a metaphor for her coming alive again. Her whole relationship with Lazarus was ok but I didn’t care about either of them and for it to work for me I have to care about the
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characters. You can only listen to her talk about the ice in her veins for so long before you scream Shut Up and Get Over it! Yes, your evil, your wishes come true blah blah.
The ending gave our narrator (she is never named) a little reprieve but it was too little too late. Not one I’ll be recommending.
I’m still not sure if I am a fan of Alice Hoffman I love magical realism but this one fell short for me I will try more by this author but I am hoping to find that one that makes everyone love Alice Hoffman’s books so much.
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LibraryThing member bastet
For such a good writer, this was an oddly unlikeable novel. I loved the magical parts, but the narrator spent most of the time feeling sorry for herself. Not one of her best novels.
LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
Slowly but surely, I'm falling completely in love with Alice Hoffman's work.

The soft mix of magical realism and undeniable reality--especially the realities we so often hate to face--seems to be her specialty, and here it is at its best. Something like a grown-up's fairy tale, this was a story
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which was never less predictable than it was in its first moments. The characters are both familiar and understandable, and utterly foreign and original. And, just as terrifying as this is the fact that you can feel--with all five of your senses--each move of the book. If you're looking for a relaxed dose of fantasy with a relaxed dose of reality, and much beautiful seemingly effortless writing, you should read this. (And, this stands even if the book sounds rather unappealing on its surface--I admit, it sounded rather unappealing to me when I first happened upon it, until I began reading that is.)
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LibraryThing member Storeetllr
I just finished an audiobook reading of The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman. All I can say is wow. This is the first book since Find Me that made me cry, yet I never felt that the author was manipulating my emotions (which is, perhaps, why I was able to cry, since it was so subtle and crept up on me
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that I wasn't prepared). The entire book was dark, and for at least half of it I disliked the female protagonist, but the last half of the book details her redemption and was so powerful and intense that I was literally breathless and, as I said, I actually found myself sobbing at times.

It is a story of a woman who, because of a terrible tragedy in her childhood that she believes she caused, tries to make sense of Death and, after she is struck by lightening and survives, ends up making sense of Life. It's a book I am sure I'm going to reread again, it is that good.
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LibraryThing member Eliz12
Sometimes I like Alice Hoffman's writing, and sometimes not. This definitely falls into the latter.
I didn't like the characters, didn't like the story, didn't believe all the secrets, got very tired of all the endless questioning: "Was this love?" "Could she ever really love?" "What is love,
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really?" - that kind of stuff. Hoffman certainly can write, but this book does not evince that.
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LibraryThing member flying_monkeys
Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things.

How's that for an opening?!

After losing her mother at the age of eight, the unnamed narrator decides she doesn't deserve much of a life. She builds a fortress between her and others, allows her heart to
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freeze solid, she merely exists. Until 30 years later, the day she's struck by lightening.

"Everyone has them. I mean one defining secret. The essence of a person. If you figure that out, you figure out the riddle of that particular human being."

The Ice Queen was my first time reading Alice Hoffman, and I'm kinda surprised at how fluffy this story was. For some reason I was expecting something darker. Or maybe it was the romance that made it feel fluffy? Sure, there were some heavy issues tackled (I even cried a teensy bit) but closing the book I was left with an overall feeling of warmth, of hope, which I admit was nice.

"This is what I know, the one and only thing. The best way to die is while you're living."

3.5 stars (I look forward to reading many more books by Hoffman.)


"If Frances York had known what I was doing, I would have been fired on the spot. What people read revealed so much about them that she considered our card catalog a treasure house of privileged secrets; each card contained the map of an individual's soul."

"This would be the moment I would never let go of, even though it caused me the greatest pain. When I was old, when I couldn't walk or talk or see, I would still have this."

After finishing the book, I couldn't help feeling like the main character's story mirrored that of the fairy tale she liked least, "Godfather Death," and that her brother switched places with her because the way she was "living" wasn't really a life, and it seemed as if he saved her life by dying.
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LibraryThing member bookczuk
I feel really guilty, I normally love Alice Hoffman's writing, but this book just didn't engage me. Not that the writing wasn't good, or that the ideas were ambiguous or that the imagery was missing -- it just didn't capture me. When over halfway into the I didn't like or care about any of the
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characters, I started skim-reading. I caught many of the fairytale references and could have a willing suspension of disbelief on some things that happen in the story. Even so, I found it a bit too melancholy for my tastes.
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LibraryThing member Virtual_Jo
Hoffman is one of my favourite authors and this tale of fire and ice doesn't disappoint. The heroine is struck by lightening and her heart is frozen; she meets a man also lightening-struck who can burn things with his bare hands, and they embark upon a passionate but tragic affair.
LibraryThing member Niecierpek
It left me cold. Is this a bad Alice Hoffman book? Or, have her books always been bad, and I have changed, perhaps? I haven't read anything by her for about 10 years, but I remember enjoying her writing. This was very disappointing. I wouldn't have finished it had I not been waiting for something
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to redeem it. Unfortunately, it never came.
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LibraryThing member LouiseH
So far the best Alice Hoffman..not sure if it can get any better than The Ice Queen. I cried
LibraryThing member jennstarr12
This book started out a little boring and uninteresting but that soon changed. It is about a woman who wishes to get struck by lightning, only to have her wish come true.
LibraryThing member keely_chace
A quick, engrossing novel with recurring fairy tale and weather-related motifs and elements of magical realism. The protagonist is a depressed librarian deeply affected by childhood tragedy, who eventually learns to feel, love and live.
LibraryThing member miyurose
This isn’t the type of book I would normally enjoy. The narrator/main character is rather depressing, and I spent a good part of the book wanting to slap her and yell "get a grip, would ya?". However, her initial state just makes her transformation more compelling. And if you ask me, the key to
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it isn’t Lazarus Jones — it’s her sister-in-law. Lazarus, despite his interesting story, is just another repeat in the pattern of her life.

In my opinion, this book is worth the read if only for the touching end with her brother. It was well worth the frustrating first half.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
Though I have several of Alice Hoffman's novels waiting on my shelf, this was actually the first I've read. Had I quit the book about halfway through, I probably would've rated it lower. Fortunately, the second half was more engaging & the storyline branched out in several ways that I wasn't
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necessarily expecting. I found the main character (unnamed in this novel) really quite unlikeable with her continual condescension and self-pity, and though she experiences somewhat of a transformation by the end of the story, she still left me unsettled. Still, the novel was redeeming in the fact that it did explore various themes, some rather hard to believe (although I think Hoffman is known for the "magical" aspects in her stories), but still quite deep & meaningful.
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LibraryThing member knittingfreak
I've had this book forever and just finally got around to reading it. The book begins,

"Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things. They burn your tongue the moment they're spoken and you can never take them back. They bruise and bake and come back
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to haunt you. I've made far too many wishes in my lifetime, the first when I was eight years old."

The story is told in this first-person voice throughout the book, and we never learn the narrator's name. In fact, when I got ready to post this, I had to go back and make sure that I hadn't just missed her name. I know this was a conscious decision by the author. It fits very well with the loneliness and guilt that the narrator carries. She doesn't feel that she deserves to be known because of that wish that she believes changed the course of her life.

She spends her life avoiding meaningful relationships with people. The only person she believes has ever truly loved her despite her flaws is her grandmother who cares for her and her brother after her mother dies. However, when her grandmother dies many years later, the young woman is thrown into a tail spin all over again. Though they've never really been all that close, her brother convinces her to move to Florida where he and his wife are college professors. She continues to drift through her life until the unthinkable happens. She makes another wish that comes true. She is hit by lightning, which begins another strange chapter in her life. Through a lightning survivor study group at the college, she learns about Lazarus Jones, a man who is said to have died for forty minutes after his lightning strike. Having always been fascinated by death, she seeks him out hoping to learn something from him.

This a short, powerful book. Like most of Hoffman's books, the reader has to be able to suspend disbelief. However, she makes it quite easy to do so. Though her premise is strange, I didn't really question anything about it. The book is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time and one I highly recommend.
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LibraryThing member neverlistless
This Hoffman was a little different than the others I've read - it was much sadder, but still just as good. It starts with a young girl, angry at her mother, wishing that she never sees her again. Well, she gets her wish. It follows her into adulthood, where she becomes a person who is totally
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trustworthy, but never shares her own emotions or own feelings. One day, after losing her grandmother, the woman who raised her, she is struck by lightening. She seeks out a man who is reportedly came back from death after his strike - and they become involved in a passionate relationship.

This book deals with a lot of loss and really touched me - I sobbed through the last 20-30 pages. This is a good one who feels up to a good cry and who wants to read about renewal and about how we all deal with tragedy.
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LibraryThing member elliepotten
This is a captivating modern fairytale about one woman's journey through tragedy and pain, towards truth, freedom and happiness. It opens with a little girl in a rage, standing on her porch making a terrible wish that her mother will die. When it comes true and she dies in a car accident that very
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night, the girl is consumed by an agonising pain and guilt that will haunt her into womanhood. To cope with everything she grows cold, burying herself in dark fairy stories and books on death, closing herself off from emotion and social contact even as she maintains her dependable image at the local library reference desk.

Everything changes when she moves to Florida, where her brother is now a married meteorologist working at a university. One fateful day, she is struck by lightning as she stands by her window. Her heart is a shard of ice, her body ravaged and her vision altered so she sees only crystal white or dull grey in place of the colour red. Agreeing to participate in her brother's research on lightning survivors, she begins to understand herself in light of the others' stories. Renny has hands threaded with gold where the lightning branded him with his own jewellery. The Dragon, struck twice, can spit fire.

And then she meets Lazarus Jones, a reclusive man who was struck by lightning and died for forty five minutes before inexplicably waking up in the morgue. He is her opposite, a man whose touch burns and whose breath is hot enough to set things on fire. Yet there is a spark of understanding between them and in their mutual need for human contact they begin a passionate and secretive love affair, the Ice Queen and the burning man. Thus, slowly, through their union and their gradual rehabilitation of mind and body, they find truth, peace and themselves. Finally the Ice Queen has thawed and can look outside of herself and her obsession with her past in time for a moving yet hopeful climax.

Woven through with fairy stories, lightning myth and the chaos theory, this is a moving and compelling novel that is utterly unlike anything I have ever read before. It manages to be beautiful yet macabre, and the ideas are expressed in pure poetry. Although it occasionally veered into a kind of self-conscious disjointedness, I couldn't put it down and was thoroughly immersed in it from start to finish. Each of the characters are touched by magic, and Lazarus Jones is a particularly strong, sexy and brooding anti-hero for female readers! The book has gone straight to the top of my wish list and I think it will haunt me for a long time. I'll definitely be seeking out more Hoffman in the near future...
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LibraryThing member EffingEden
Oh. My. God.

This book. It was never ending! The style of the writing was dull. Yes, some of it did have a poetic twist about it, but really? It was depressing. That's pretty much all that can be said for it - the author can force the reader into depression. When I read the main character's
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emotions, I actually felt like I was on a down spiral. Yes, that's a good skill. But Alice Hoffman doesn't stop! It is all misery. Not just understandable misery, either. Misery about the stupidest, childish things. I couldn't stand another page of it.

I am disappointed. It started like Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West but it didn't take off, and I felt no connection to the nameless protagonist. I got midway, where Lazarus Jones is talking about his past to the nameless she. I ended up reading one sentence per paragraph and I was still depressed and bored of the lack of emotions.

*** (some time later)

So, I did finish it.

It was as anticlimactic as a story without a upward curve of anticipation can be. It wasn't worth the time, even when I only read one sentence in three.

I'm glad it's over.
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LibraryThing member readingaria
I must admit that some parts of this book had me confused. Not as to what was going on but how the characters got from the beginning to the end. I am sure I am not explaining it well so let's try again.

The Ice Queen is about a woman who made a terrible wish as a child,loses her mother and now is
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very cold emotionally. Then after another wish, she gets struck by lightening, though she survives. She then meets other survivors, including one man whose skin is unnaturally hot after being struck. Lazarus Jones, a man who practically burns, and the narrator, a woman of ice, soon begin an affair.

The narrator, who remains unnames, does make changes in her life and she changes through out the book but something of it confused me. I felt like Hoffman was trying to say something beneath the text but I couldn't get a grasp of what it was. It was a bit frustrating in that aspect but I did enjoy the story in other regards. Hoffman does seem to be an interesting author and while I don't understand some of her writing, I am sure I will be looking up some more of her books before long.
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LibraryThing member averitasm
Had to review this one, I loved the movie Practical Magic, and so I got this book about 3 yrs ago to read, very intense, I did like it and it should say something that after all this time I remember most of what it was about , lightning strike survivors and supernatural powers, love and finding out
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about yourself, I would recommend this it was a good book
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LibraryThing member BinnieBee
Excellent book! It was very different and very, very good!
LibraryThing member mpruneda
OMG this book was ah-mazing. It is about a women who seems to curse her life with everything she says. She wished she was hit by lightening...and she was. So then she goes to live with her brother and while she is living with him she works at the local library hoping to find more than just herself.


Audie Award (Finalist — 2006)




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