The Ice Queen

Reading Guide

1. The Ice Queen begins with a warning: “Be careful what you wish for …. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things.” Considering the power of wishes as depicted in the novel, do you agree with the narrator’s advice?
2. The narrator and her brother react quite differently to the news of their mother’s death. Discuss how their differing responses reflect their individual characters. When the narrator discovers the truth about her mother’s departure on the night she died, how does this news affect her?
3. The lines between life and death are unmistakably blurred in The Ice Queen.Some characters cheat death while others have difficulty embracing life. How do you think the narrator views her own mortality? In your opinion, has she cheated death?
4. Discuss the role of fairy tales in The Ice Queen. What kinds of tales does the narrator express a preference for? Why?
5. The physical effects of a lightning strike are unique to each victim in the novel- the narrator’s inability to see red, Lazarus’s boiling breath, Renny’s hands, the Dragon’s fire, and the Naked Man’s sleepiness. Discuss the significance of some of these physical changes.
6. The author writes that “the elements most drawn to each other are the ones that destroy each other” (page 85). How does this theory play out in her relationship with Lazarus?
7. The old man known as the Dragon is an almost mythic character in the book. What realizations do the narrator and her brother draw from their pivotal encounter with him?
8. Early in the novel, the narrator admits her fascination with death. Yet she notes that she “didn’t like stories in which Death was a major character” (page 43). Why does she draw this distinction? What does it reveal about her?
9. The narrator’s two romantic interests, Lazarus and Jack, are very different from each other. What does each of these men offer her? Do you agree with the narrator’s choice in the end? Why or why not?
10. In The Ice Queen, emotional scars can run far deeper than physical scars. Have the narrator’s scars truly healed? Why is the new loss she experiences at the end of the book not as devastating as the loss of her mother?
11. Why do you think the author chose not to reveal the name of the narrator of The Ice Queen?