(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Still reeling after the recent death of their 7-year-old daughter, Kirstie, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft struggle to pick up the pieces of their broken marriage and family. Their remaining daughter—Kirstie's identical twin sister, Lydia—hasn't been the same since the tragedy that stole her only sibling. Neither has Angus, whose grief has turned into a hot anger made worse by heavy drinking. Sarah longs for something, anything, positive to bring her family out of the impenetrable darkness into which they're all sinking. So, when Angus inherits a remote Scottish island, Sarah embraces the chance to start over in a place where everything she sees doesn't remind her of her dead daughter. The fact that the place is barely habitable seems irrelevant.
Sarah's new abode—a dilapidated, rat-infested lighthouse keeper's cottage miles away from anything and reachable only by boat is disconcerting enough. Then, there's Lydia's sudden, strange insistence that she is, in fact, Kirstie. Considering how much Lydia's been acting like her dead twin, the declaration sends a horrified shudder down Sarah's spine. What Lydia's saying can't possibly be true, can it? Sure that establishing a normal, comfortable routine will bring normalcy back to her family's life, Sarah sends Lydia off to school and tries not to worry. That plan doesn't last long. With Angus becoming increasingly unpredictable, Lydia withdrawing even more, and Sarah suffering from loneliness and unease, the Moorcrafts have plenty to worry about.
Obsessing about what really happened the day her daughter died, Sarah's anxiety and fear peak. As a vicious storm brews around her, she finds herself stranded on an island where terrifying, inexplicable things keep happening with a daughter who seems as alien as the moon. Is Sarah, in her profound grief, experiencing a break with reality? Are the things she's seeing real? Is the island somehow haunted? Possessed? Is Kirstie truly dead? Or has Sarah made a grave, possibly deadly, mistake?
I love me a psychological thriller where I never quite know what is real and what is not. The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne (a "non-man" pseudonym for British journalist Sean Thomas—read why he chose it here) is just such a book. From its eerie setting to its mind-bending plot to its unsettling premise, the novel is a twisty, chilling, roller coaster ride. I couldn't look away from this gorgeously gothic spook story—and I mean that (almost) literally. The Ice Twins kept me completely riveted. If you like creepy, atmospheric mind-twisters, you will not want to miss this one.
(Readalikes: The book's tone/style reminded me of novels by Jennifer McMahon, while the twists are reminiscent of bestsellers like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language, sexual content, violence, and references to illegal drug use and child abuse
To the FTC, with love: Another library