The Ice Child is a psychological thriller novel by No.1 international bestseller and Swedish crime sensation Camilla Läckberg. The story follows a series of disappearances in and around a small town in Sweden called Fjällbacka. At the start of the book a young semi naked girl wanders aimlessly through the forest in midwinter. As she nears a road, a car comes around the bend and does not manage to stop in time. The girl is killed. However the disturbing part comes after the biopsy shows that her eyes, and ears were permanently damaged with acid, and her tongue was cut out. The police are pressured to find the other missing girls, anxious that they might have suffered the same fate.
One of the main aspects of this novel is that every chapter follows a different character, and tells of their experiences with the events that unfold. This can be startling at first, because it does not say anywhere in the book that this occurs, of which character this chapter is in the perspective of. As the book progresses you learn to tell what character you are with through their thoughts, and who they associate with. But at the start it can be a little hard to follow. The overall effect, though, is quite stunning, especially when it comes to understanding the motives of the antagonists.
Possibly the most clever aspect of this novel, is that originally, it primarily follows a detective working on the missing girls cases, and his wife, who is an author of true crime stories. She is working on a new novel, and is visiting the woman -who confessed, and was prosecuted of the murder of her husband- in jail. At the first the two crimes appear unrelated, but as the story unfolds, a major link between the two crimes appears, a small box of newspaper cutouts of the disappearances the convicted woman keeps under her bed. A box she never mentions and believes no one know about.
A very interesting concept in this novel that I found is that one of the antagonists is a psychopath. It does not however, portray this mental illness stereotypically, with the antagonist being ‘crazy’ in a sense, and not as a functioning member of society. In actuality psychopaths appear just as any other person, a psychopath is actually defined by a set of certain traits, including, but not not limited to, a lack of empathy, shallow emotions, irresponsibility, selfishness, pathological lying, narrowing of attention, and overconfidence. The antagonist in question appears as a ‘normal’ person apart from a few subtle clues that you would miss, or would simply confuse you if you did not know the criteria for a psychopath. The most noticeable of these is when she and her daughter are chained up in a basement, her daughter is beside herself with panic, and desperation at her disabled state. Her mother however, remains calm, and simply tells her daughter to stop yelling and be patient. She makes no move to comfort the girl, and even recoils when the daughter reaches out for her mother. When the girl’s father comes for them, she begins crying with relief, and her mother thinks: “Why is she crying, we’re being saved. This is what she wanted.” This is classic psychopathic behavior; showing a lack of empathy for the emotions of even your own daughter.
In conclusion, this psychological thriller, The Ice Child, by No.1 international bestseller and Swedish crime sensation Camilla Läckberg is a complex story. It is not for the faint of heart as it deals with themes that may disturb some people. However, for those who appreciate decisive writing, and/or love a convoluted mystery, it is a great read and impossible to put down. I would definitely recommend it, especially to people who enjoy the thriller/horror genre.