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The Sequestered Nook

I like a little sugar in my tea, a smidgen of cheese on that cracker, some garnish on a salad (but not too much) and ... (running out of food metaphors)... something novel in a novel.

Blood & Ice (or A Cautionary Tale Regarding The Folly of Buying a Book for its Cover)

Blood and Ice - Robert Masello

I didn't choose this book, it chose me.


From her place on the crowded supermarket bookshelf Eleanor Ames, with her vampiric complexion and ethereal-blue eyes peered over her shoulder, straight at me and whispered “Buy Me!”


“I'm not buying a book Eleanor, I just popped in for some carrots”, I protested, weakly.


“I promise”, she said in her dulcet tone, “You’ll be glad that you did."


I was at the checkout before you could say ‘carrots’ (let alone buy some) but Eleanor never did deliver on that promise...


An excerpt from a USA today review featured on the back of the book reads, "If H.G Wells, Stephenie Meyer and Michael Crichton co-wrote a novel, the result would be Blood and Ice"... After reading the book I'm not entirely convinced this was a compliment (looking at it now, I'm not sure how I ever construed it as such). 


Masello is clearly a capable writer and the book is thoroughly researched. Reading about living and working amidst the eerie and alien Antarctic landscape was engrossing and the retrospectives of the Crimean War were enjoyable. The overall idea has lots of potential (I imagine a storyboard of the basic plot points might look quite exciting) but the execution was too convoluted for me. The intended thrills were anticlimactic, the romance was uninspiring and ill-fitted, the ending fell flat and the main character, Michael, was a bit of a husk; a mere plot vehicle and so impassive himself that it was difficult, as a reader, to feel anything more profound. It seemed to me that Masello didn't enjoy developing these aspects of his story; rather that he resented them bumming a lift on the back of his serious, journalistic endeavours.   


In fact, in my head the book pitch went something like this.....



I didn't entirely dislike the book but it was full of frustratingly, unrealised potential and every time immersion crept up on me I was torn away to some other place or time or character. Some 500 pages after that uncarrotful trip to Tesco I closed in on the final chapters with relief and excitement for my next read, rather than in anticipation of an enticing and satisfying ending.