Sisters and secrets. Secrets and sisters. Secrets kill sisters.
Secrets, not sisterhood, make this story, though it’s that bond that unravels them. Frozen Beauty is told from alternating perspectives, each holding tightly to their own part of the story, which in the end, comes together in a desperately melancholic resolution.
Kit is the epitome of the responsible, authoritative older sister, in the nicest way possible. She volunteers, writes poetry,… and… that’s about all. One of the unfortunate aspects of the book is we don’t get much insight into her motivations, except through Tessa.
Tessa is the middle child. She cares about schoolwork, doesn’t care for popularity, and is, in my opinion, a vessel both for her sister and by which many readers might see themselves in. Her character throughout the book is fully devoted to discovering what really happened to Kit, which is why we don’t get very much of her backstory, unlike Lily.
Lily is very much the stereotypical youngest sibling. Collector of secrets and diarist extraordinaire, Lily brings a needed lightness to the story. She opines on boys, and friends, and sister drama enough to paint the reader a fuller picture of the setting of Devil’s lake.
The sisters were drifting before Kit was found in the back of their childhood friend’s truck, frozen and shirtless. Between Kit’s new secretiveness and the common struggles of siblings growing apart, it takes death for Tessa and Lily to realize that maybe, they didn’t know their sister, or each other, very well at all.
While there were many secondary and minor characters who I feel weren’t fleshed out enough, I really did like how their stories were so interwoven with the sisters. Boyd, their childhood friend is, yes, but others, like Patrick, who were connected to them on so many levels, which shows that the author put a lot of time into that part of the plot.
The prose, while well crafted, is interspersed with diary entries and isn’t consistently vivid, which has its pros and cons. The plot itself, however, in its intricacy, imbued the novel with an ethereal, poetic aspect that’s difficult to describe. The wintery setting, the repeated imagery, then circling back to the beginning at the end all contribute to that feeling.
The mechanics by which the whole story unraveled were contrived at best. That’s not to say the book itself wasn’t well-plotted, many of the seemingly innocuous details came together at the end. There was just a certain piece to that puzzle if you will, that was a bit ridiculous for a contemporary. This was, above all, one of the most frustrating aspects of the novel, along with the ending.
I expected to feel shocked, or angry, something visceral, but the best way I can describe it is quietly tearing paper and watching it softly fall to the ground with a sad smile on your face and nothing in your eyes. Assuming that the paper is my soul, that is.
Frozen Beauty, in all its frosty grace, dragged me, nails digging into the crackling forest dirt, to its markedly unsettling, yet oddly satisfying conclusion. It shattered my assumptions in a way that was, while disappointing, right for the world we live in.