image The Ice Twins: S.K. Tremayne

For me, the best part of this book was the setting – S.K. Tremayne’s newest psychological thriller takes place on a tiny Scottish island, complete with churning waves, howling wind and a flashing lighthouse. Reading this on one of the windiest days of 2015 really did scare me I have to say! The premise of the novel is fantastic; Sarah and Angus are parents to Lydia and Kirstie, completely identical twins with silky blonde hair and mirror-image faces. Fourteen months ago one of the seven-year-old twins, Lydia, fell to her death and ever since the family have been struggling to piece their lives back together in the aftermath of the tragedy. One fateful day, the remaining twin girl turns to her mother and says: “Why do you keep calling me Kirstie? I’m Lydia.”
This line really did send shivers down my spine. We are plunged into the confused mass of Sarah’s mind, as she wonders whether she really could have done the unthinkable – wrongly identified the child they cremated. You do have to suspend disbelief a little here, but Tremayne makes it very clear just how identical these two girls were, to the point where their parents relied on coloured ribbons and painted fingernails to differentiate between the two. We learn that on the day of the accident, Sarah found Kirstie screaming that her sister had fallen from the balcony, and had never had reason to question which child had actually died.
The novel twists and turns, told mainly through the viewpoint of the grieving mother Sarah but also from the perspective of her angry husband Angus, a gruff Scottish man who fits perfectly with the wild island landscape. We start to suspect that Angus knows more than he lets on, but Tremayne holds back information as the tension builds. Kirstie/Lydia begins to behave strangely, talking to her dead twin as though she is still there, alienating the other school children, singing alone to herself in her icy cold room. She is definitely a creepy character; a scene which sees her slam her little fists into glass doors was vividly depicted and I could really hear the faint sound of her voice humming ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’ (an eerie song in itself).
I did however find the latter parts of this book a bit frustrating, and found myself wanting more of a clear resolution at the end. At times, this book felt as though it was going to go down the supernatural route, then we were pulled back into the straight psychological thriller zone, and I think the ending suffered for this. It is certainly a great concept and I definitely wanted to know what happened, I just wasn’t entirely satisfied with the answers provided. At times I felt the characters didn’t question things enough and that the plot had slightly lost its way. However, saying that the atmosphere which the book evoked was undoubtedly very chilling, and the details and psychology about being a twin was fascinating. I loved the photographs that accompany the book, I think they really added to the story and helped evoke the strong sense of place. While the story itself fell a little flat for me, the twin girls will stay in my mind and the original idea of a misidentified dead child is a really horrid one so kudos to the author for coming up with it!
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