Title: The House of Frozen Dreams
Writer: Seré Prince Halverson
Date of Publication: June 19th 2014
Publishing House: HarperCollins
Rating: 4 stars
“A wolf howled, holding a shingle lonely note in the distance. The scent of spruce and mud and sea kept dredging up the imagined hint of smoke. Even in the summer, a fire burned in the wood stove.”
Wanderlust is one of the things that characterizes us readers. The urge to experience new places, customs. Books are magic carpets that can transfer us to lands we most probably won’t see and allow us to know them as best as we can. My wanderlust always brings me to cold, mystical, dusky landscapes. No heat, no noise, and as less people as possible. The nightly sky and the snowy pines are enough. Alaska has always been one of the many territories whose impact on my mind grows stronger with each related book. This novel by Sere Prince Halverson has Alaska at its heart, along with a very special heroine and a few problems.
Kache returns to Alaska years after an incident that sealed his life forever. There, he funds the home of his parents occupied by a strange young woman, Nadia, and her dog, Lio. The begin to develop a deep appreciation for each other and discover that their lives are much more similar than they thought. However, their ways to react in front of obstacles couldn’t be more different. Make no mistake, this isn’t a simple love story. I don’t read those. This is a struggle for rebirth through ashes and as such it is s powerful, meaningful novel. The heart of the plot doesn’t focus on romance but on dark, brutal deeds and false ideas.
“Alaska does not forgive mistakes.”
Halverson weaves descriptions of pure beauty combining tranquility with the raw, unforgiving, mystical landscape. Her story has its foundations on the human soul. People have been keeping secrets for far too long. They are isolated. They know it, they seek it to be so. The story is built on isolation and the awful weight of the wounds of the past. And then, we have religion. Religion in the form of fundamentalism, providing an excuse for oppression and violence. I found the inclusion of the Old Believers story line extremely interesting and I am intrigued to read more on the subject when time allows. Naturally, family and love make the plot more humane and approachable.
This is where the problems begin, in my opinion. Although the relationship between Nadia and Kache developed in the proper pace, there were times when it seemed unbalanced as Kache came across as controlling and overreacting. No, scratch that. He was the epitome of drama queen. Moreover, there were a few “twists” that were too predictable, albeit adequately executed, and a certain plot line was ultimately ridiculous with unnecessary melodrama.
Nadia is a fascinating character. She is a survivor who dared to resist her family’s idiotic ideas. Her bravery kept her alive and her love for Literature helped her escape. She retained a mind of her own and let no one dictate her life. I loved her in an instant. I didn’t appreciate Kache, I’m afraid. Self-absorbed, preoccupied, nonsensical, at times, and manipulative in a sickly-sweet way. It was Nadia that made him a better person and even then I couldn’t warm up to him. Lettie is a gem but Snag? She lowered the quality of the whole story, in my opinion. I wasn’t interested in her melancholy and I couldn’t care less about her sexual problems and her “true” self. She was boring, unlikable and very, very badly-written. I omitted most of her chapters, to be honest. There’s only so much trash I can handle….
Snag(s) aside, this is a haunting, beautiful novel. Harsh but with an underlying tenderness and sadness. Laced with atmospheric descriptions, with an extremely memorable heroine but with an unfortunate choice of characters that varied from average to indifferent. However, the story alone deserves your attention.
“These books, they are my friends, my teachers, my family, my everyone. They keep me alive.”