Ice and Embers by Melanie Karsak

Ice and Embers by Melanie Karsak

Title: Ice and Embers: Steampunk Snow Queen
Author: Melanie Karsak
Series: Steampunk Fairytales #2
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings, Steampunk
Dates read: 19th – 29th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Clockpunk Press
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “You’re very kind.”

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When actress Elyse McKenna fell in love with Lord John Waldegrave, she was prepared to keep their liaison secret. What she wasn’t’ ready for was how her newfound love would rock her relationship with her dearest friend, Doctor Kai Murray.

With the 1814 London Frost Fair in full swing, Elyse and her troupe at the Ice House Theatre find themselves at the heart of the excitement on the frozen Thames. But when an exotic ship captain, whose vessel is trapped in the ice, turns her attention to Kai, everything Elyse thought she knew about her feelings for her old friend gets flipped upside down.

While the Ice House Theatre’s production of A Midwinter Night’s Dream thrills the London crowd, Elyse’s life begins to take on a distinctly Shakespearean turn.

Elyse must find a way to discover the truth about the captain, Kai, John, and her own feelings if she hopes to escape the Thames with her heart intact.

Ice and Embers is a retelling of the classic Snow Queen fairy tale set in Regency London.


I must admit that The Snow Queen is one of my all time favourite fairy tales. Which meant that a steampunk adaptation of it was immediately going to draw me in. Particularly when the other two adaptations I’ve read by Karsak (Curiouser and Curiouser and Wolves and Daggers) were just so damn good. And you know what? This didn’t disappoint. It was fantastic and wonderful and did absolute justice to the original fairy tale (thank goodness).

Although the original fairy tale focuses on two children, I loved that Karsak bought this into adulthood. It wasn’t necessarily sexual (although there were moments of that), but Elyse’s battle and journey was that little bit more intense and serious because she was an adult. That, and the fact that it was partnered with Shakespeare, although I probably didn’t pick up on all of the references because I’m a little bit “eh” about The Bard. It was all very well done and completely seamlessly executed.

It may have taken me a bit over a week to read this novel, but the majority of it I actually read in one night. A night when there were thunderstorms overhead and the rain beating down on my tin roof. Which was an absolutely perfect setting for the Frost Fair on the frozen river Thames. Something about the winter setting and my own winter nest was really nice and fun. Cuddling up beneath my blanket while listening to the rain pour down and having my heart beat alongside Elyse’s… it was something very beautiful and thematic. Or at least, my fanciful heart felt so.

This doesn’t have as much of a steampunk feel as Curiouser and Curiouser. It’s a little more a regency feel with a few dashes of steampunk thrown in. Yet, I liked it. It was a nice way to show different classes and people within the same social setting and whilst I loved the Bandersnatch, I don’t think Elyse would have been so suited with so much machinery around her in her adventures…

<- Curiouser and CuriouserBeauty and Beastly ->

Image source: Goodreads

10 thoughts on “Ice and Embers by Melanie Karsak

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