Book Review: Our Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clarke

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Our Lady of the IceOur Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 1/Stand Alone

Publisher: Saga Press (10/27/15)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last year, I became a big fan of Cassandra Rose Clarke after reading her adult novel debut The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, an emotional tale about love, loss and androids that shattered my heart to pieces and left me pining for more. So ever since I learned about her new book Our Lady of the Ice, I have been counting the days. Its premise sounded captivating too, a mystery drama unfolding inside a city encapsulated by a glass dome, the only protection against the frigid darkness of an Antarctic winter raging outside.

The novel also features an intriguing cast. Eliana Gomez is a female PI, taking on as many jobs as she can in the hopes of scraping together enough money to get out of Hope City and head for the mainland. Her boyfriend Diego Amitrano is the adopted son of and right-hand man of Ignacio Cabrera, the city’s most notorious crime boss. Lady Marianella Luna is an Argentinian aristocrat and the celebrity face of an independence movement to build agricultural domes, a project which would help free Antarctica from the control of the mainland. Last but not least is Sofia, an android fighting for a different kind of freedom, envisioning Antarctica as a safe and human-free haven for all of robotkind.

Despite being a brand new story featuring all-new characters, I was thrilled that in some ways Our Lady of the Ice felt very much like the spiritual successor to The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. It explores some similar themes, such as: What does it mean to be human? How far would you go for love? What is the price of personal freedom? Still, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was more of a character study, looking at these questions on a more personal and intimate level. Our Lady of the Ice, on the other hand, widens the scope. Here we get to see through the eyes of four very different characters who are all connected to each other in some way, weaving a rich narrative that readers get to experience from multiple angles.

All this also takes place at the bottom of the world, in Hope City, Antarctica – a settlement that grew out of the remnants of a failed amusement park built near the turn of the century in the coldest, most forbidding place on earth. Many of its citizens are descendants of the hundreds of workers who arrived decades ago to build and maintain the park. The city is also home to a great number of robots, from repair drones to fully sentient androids or “andies” that were left over when the park closed down.

Human or non-human, everyone is out for something. Eliana only has her eyes set on a ticket out of Hope City. Diego is torn between carrying out unsavory errands for Cabrera, who is like a father to him, and his love for Eliana, who makes him want to become a better person. Marianella has a huge secret, and she’s terrified of being found out. And Sofia…well, Sofia probably has the most astonishing story of them all. She has reasons to be more motivated than most. Programmed to be a “comfort girl” during the amusement park’s heyday, music is written into her code to trigger some very unpleasant reactions, making Sofia highly averse to any old song recorded before the 1930s. It’s frightening and it’s heartbreaking. I love how this book stirred up my emotions. Time after time the characters will do things to make you hate them, but then the story will always remind you again of their respective situations and why they made those choices. I felt much the same way reading about Cat in The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. Cassandra Rose Clarke’s characters are complex and multi-faceted; even when they are being frustrating, you can’t help but connect with them.

Furthermore, everywhere you look is another reminder of what Hope City once was, a bright and shining testament to humankind’s triumph over the elements, now reduced to a faltering system run by corrupt gangsters and two-faced politicians who are out only for themselves. If you have ever played Bioshock, Hope City reminded me a lot of where that game takes place, a beautiful-utopia-turned-crumbling-dystopia under the sea. There’s a feeling of isolation from the rest of the world and a sense of helplessness that emanates from the population, really complementing the dark mystery plot as well as the fatalistic and cynical attitudes of the protagonists.

The resulting effect of this eclectic hodgepodge is something truly amazing: A sci-fi novel infused with hard-boiled noir vibes featuring wonderfully flawed characters in one of the most mind-blowingly unique settings I’ve ever seen. I found this book simply irresistible.


27 Comments on “Book Review: Our Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clarke”

  1. I don’t remember your review about her other book but I’ll take a look. In any case it’s nice to see you were taken once again by this one. The topics look interesting I confess.


  2. I can’t wait to read this. You piqued my interest in wrap-up post, and the more I know about it the more I want it.


  3. I’m reading this right now and I’m loving it:-) You’re right, it does feel eerily familiar, I think it’s partly her writing style. I love that she’s writing about androids again, but the story is completely different.


    • There are quite a few choices! She’s written a few YA novels, which might be a good place to start if you prefer that genre. I really liked The Mad Scientist’s Daughter as well, which is an adult novel but can work quite well as a crossover (but I found it very melancholy and heartbreaking!) This one is darker, more adult, but as you can see I really liked it too! So really, you can start anywhere and you’d be fine. Just depends on your tastes! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • They all sound like they’d be up my alley, to be honest. 🙂 Maybe I’ll start with Our Lady of the Ice, since it’s her newest one. But really, it might be whichever book of hers I see first!


    • The author’s The Assassin’s Curse series that was pretty popular, so I think a lot of readers heard of her through that. I hope you’ll get a chance to check this out!


  4. This is another title that caught my attention before and that I’m even more curious to try out. The question about the meaning of being human would be enticement enough, but the story sounds very intriguing, as do the characters. Thanks for sharing!


  5. I think “Hope City” is an appropriate name. I know if was stuck in a glass in the middle of Antartica, I would be hoping everyday that could leave that ice and move to Florida 😛

    Seeing multiple POV’s is always great. Especially in a situation like this, where each member seems have a different goal (or motivations) in mind.

    Did not know this had the “what does it mean to be human?” question. Debatably my favorite topic in all of sic-fi.


    • What’s even more interesting is that the name “Hope City” was originally given to the amusement park (I think). At the time, it was like, “Look at us! Humans have conquered Antarctica, how awesome we are!” Now it’s a faltering dome where everyone wants to get the hell out of. So, I agree, the name definitely has meaningful significance 🙂


  6. I am so pumped for this book after reading your review! I love the sound of the setting, but most of all I love it when book play with the whole ‘what it means to be human’ theme! Excited to check this out sometimes this year.


  7. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves and Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  8. Pingback: #RRSciFiMonth 5 Books I Read in 2015 That Deserve More Attention | The BiblioSanctum

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