Lisa Lueddecke is a beautiful writer, with a flare for spectacular setting. Her protagonist, Òsa, resides in Skane: a snowy island that is at one with the stars; an island that has a fortune foretold in the light of the sky. If the light shines green, the Goddess is happy; blue, and a storm is afoot; red, and danger is coming. For the first time in seventeen years, the sky bleeds red, and a threat both new and old works its way towards Skane. Òsa must make a perilous journey to save the island that she calls home.
I found A Shiver of Snow and Sky difficult for the first third. I initially thought it was slow, but I now think it was the opposite. Too much information was hurled at me – I had no time to get to know the characters, before they were plunged into mortal danger. I feel there was a depth there that could have been explored, that wasn’t. I would like to have known more of other villagers, and their impact on Òsa, as I would like to have known more of Ivar (his home life, his motivations). It made the first third feel a bit random and stunted at times; like it’s growth couldn’t be achieved because I wasn’t invested in the story.
But once Òsa is in the foothills, Lueddecke finds a voice, and it is beautiful. Her narrative is divided between oncoming danger in Skane and Osa’s journey. The two blend in a wonderful way, and suspense forms at the end of chapters (as the narrative shifts effortlessly) that leave you craving more. The world within this novel will give you goosebumps. Lueddecke paints dazzling skies, and illustrates enemies both human and monstrous. Òsa discovers beings seemingly made of snow, and spectacular animals (including an owl called Uxi that will steal your heart). There are many beautiful moments, and an ending so spectacular it will knock you off your feet.
Within Òsa, there is resilience and light; a reminder that we must navigate the darkness in order to find the light. Though it is a cliché perhaps overused, Lueddecke spins it into a very beautiful tale.
In my opinion, it is worth the initial struggle for the hope and wonder that you find.