The Virgin in the Ice is set in the "dark, dark woods." Perhaps not so surprising when it's 1139, there's a civil war on, and Brother Cadfael is on the road to another monastic house (in his capacity as healer).
For the Forest of Cree is full of ice and snow and wind, and murder and mayhem, as well.
It would also work for Amateur Sleuth or Murder Most Foul.
Read and Called:
Werewolves: Marked in Flesh, by Anne Bishop
In the Dark, Dark Woods: The Virgin in the Ice, by Ellis Peters
Locked Room Mystery: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie
Ghost: The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde
Read, but Uncalled:
Supernatural: Murder of Crows, by Anne Bishop
Called, but Unread:
Murder Most Foul
This one as it wasn't at all what I expected. I expected steam and I got that, but the huge suspension of belief required for the story wasn't something I anticipated. After the eye-rolling prologue, maybe I should've seen it coming, but I kept reading. At the start of the story, Jacob comes across as arrogant and selfish, with little regard for anyone else, so for him to willingly sacrifice himself for others would be contrary to that. Then, years later, when he goes after Lily out of revenge, she jumps at the chance to go out with the man she thinks betrayed her father. Lily is innocent as far as relationships and intimacy are concerned, but her father is all she has and it appears that they are close in the beginning, so I can't fathom a situation where a supposedly intelligent young woman would so easily accept any kind of invitation from Jacob, let alone a date. Then, to add insult to injury, when everything comes out, Jacob has no clue what was going on with his partner and mentor during the time of said betrayal? I realize that it's fiction, but it has to make sense for the world that it is set in. The story is novella length, so maybe a bit more fleshing out of the story would've helped, but there are just too many things that don't work here.
If you like steam without much substance, then you may enjoy this one more than I did.
During the early 20th century in Albania, the Law of Lekë ruled. Women were under the strict authority of men and men could shoot each other for honor with no consequence. However, if a woman wanted to swear to live as a virgin for the rest of her life, she could live with the freedoms of a man including the style of dress, carrying a gun, and killing another man for honor. Eleanora has lived a privileged life for a young woman in a small mountain Village of Albania. She has spent most of her life traveling with her father who works as a healer. This life has given Eleanora extended freedom, a different skill set than most other women and a passion and talent for art. Eleanora's father, Francis believes he can secure a place for his daughter at an art school in Venice. While traveling, Francis is recognized and killed in the street as an honor killing. With no other choice, Eleanora makes the trip back to her village with her step-mother, Meria. Believing she is doing what's best, Meria arranges a marriage for Eleanora with Edi, a cruel man from a neighboring clan. Rather than become a subservient wife, Eleanora declares herself a sworn virgin. When an injured stranger enters their life, Eleanora fears breaking her vow.
This is an amazing story that introduced me to a culture that I knew nothing about. The writing transported me to the mountainous villages of Albania. The rich culture, vibrant landscapes, houses, food and clothing came to life for me. Eleanora's character was captivating, I loved her passion for art, her unwavering spirit and following her on her journey to find out how she can fit in. The gender roles and Eleanora's place within them was an intriguing journey that carried throughout the story. I was very interested to see if she would thrive in her role as a man when she was a sworn virgin or enjoy her role as a traditional woman. I was not surprised at the outcome. The suspense created by the many different feuds and the effects they caused on the families was very direct and created a dangerous web that Eleanora fell into which led to a very different ending than I suspected. Overall, a unique and vibrant tale about a woman's life in early 20th century Albania.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.