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The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann, John E. Woods
The Hooligan's Return: A Memoir
Norman Manea, Angela Jianu
The Ice Palace - Tarjei Vesaas, Elizabeth Rokkan A novel with a scarcity of words but with a delicate, dreamlike poetry; a story that makes you taste the coldness and isolation of winter in the middle of the summer; an adult writer who can see through the soul of an eleven year girl, down to her utmost fears; a remembrance of childhood with all its awkward moments; two girls that are linked in life and beyond; a secret that is never spoken, buried forever in ice; a promise that is kept, no matter if it brings estrangement; a wonder of nature, the ice palace, with its cold and deadly beauty.

Siss, the privileged child who is the center of her group of friends, meets Unn, an orphaned girl who prefers to stay isolated. A silent and childish battle for power brings the two girls together for a single, but unforgettable evening. Attraction and rejection, awkward discovery of sexuality, a magical moment in the mirror. Unn wants to tell Siss a secret, but Siss is afraid to hear it, so she runs back home. Darkness and menacing figures creeping through the shadowy sides of the street. The next day, Unn doesn't show up at school. The frozen lake, the dark river, the huge cascade which has built a gorgeous palace of ice. Thrill of discovery, journey through mesmerizing rooms built by water and cold; an enigmatic eye that brings relief.
A snow storm in the dark, twinkling flashes of light. People start looking for Unn, but she seems to be lost forever. Not in Siss' memory, though; she can't push into forgetfulness the one evening with a girl that deeply marks her soul. A window which opens mysteriously by itself; a vision of a face embedded in ice. Siss makes a promise that alienates her from her parents and friends. Just like their faces once became one in the mirror, Siss has taken hold of Unn's personality, prolonging her existence.

At a first glance, the novel seems to be a children's tale, yet it is much more than that. Set in a land overcome with ice and snow, the likes of which Nordic writers are masterful portrayers, the story of Siss and Unn has the magnetic power of a folktale. Simple, yet mysterious and poetic, it will stay in my memory for a long time...