Novel: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick | Goodreads
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Danger is hard to resist in this sexy thriller from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.
Britt Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.
Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there…and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.
But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?
Becca Fitzpatrick is an electrifying writer. She has a masterful grasp of pacing, which just blows my mind. Because of that, her books always feel tense to the nth degree. Additionally, she has a keen ability to make action feel edgy without being overly gritty or grotesque.
Because I know her solely from her paranormal fare, it took me awhile to pick up her take on a mountaineering thriller. It wasn’t until this fall that I took the plunge because of its chilly wintery atmosphere and also I needed an action-packed read that I could binge.
I started it a few weeks ago but ended up reading the majority of it on a Friday night, curled up with a glass of wine. It’s an easy one to read in one go because the atmosphere is so sharp, and you don’t really want to relinquish that at any point.
The main character isn’t particularly likable, but it actually feels right for the unsettling nature of the book. In the first scene, Britt asks her dad for money, goes barefoot into a 7/11, and then dumps Slushie on her ex’s car. At the very least, she doesn’t seem all that mature. She’s used to getting what she wants — not in a materialistic way, but in that she’s grown up privileged.
Still, the narrative is rooted in such a normal sounding perspective that Britt doesn’t seem like a brat although she makes some questionable choices. Throughout the book, it becomes more evident why she acts certain ways with Calvin and Korbie — although they still seemed to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. That being said, Fitzpatrick’s books all have a strangely mature quality — perhaps because of their darkness — so it somehow balanced out Britt’s immaturity.
Korbie and Britt’s relationship was weird. It’s very clear immediately that the two aren’t the actual definition of friends, although they have a strange loyalty to each other in some regard. At the very least, they have shared history — detailed through the flashbacks that Britt uses to comfort herself when she’s shivering alone in the woods. Korbie and Britt work together in a way strictly because they are so distrustful and transactionary in their friendship.
Add Calvin, Korbie’s brother and Britt’s ex, in the mix and there’s enough simmering already. Veiled resentment, confusion, and a messy end to a relationship. I’ve mentioned this before but I love when writers tackle relationships after they’re over. The nostalgia and the negativity in Black Ice functioned well with the high-stakes thriller aspect. I talked a few months ago about 16 Ways to Break a Heart and the toxicity of their old relationship felt very similar. With that being said, I think the old flame aspect would have been a lot stronger if Fitzpatrick had given us more positivity to hold onto. But I’m glad she chose the “ex” storyline, because it fit well with the tension between history and recovery that seemed to be a fundamental theme of the book.
In that vein, I wish that Becca Fitzpatrick had made her ex and best friend more redeeming; the reader never really got to understand WHY Britt kept these awful people around aside from shared experience. The pacing of those flashbacks was great though because they did provide brief flashes of warmth amongst tumultuous survival narratives.
I hadn’t expected the action to start so early in the book but it was roaring by the time Britt and Korbie got onto the mountain. In hindsight, I would have actually loved a little more mountaineering rather than just survival scenarios within abandoned cabins. But the rest of it was executed well.
Mason was a fantastic character; he was unpredictable, but always acted in a way that felt authentic to what his personality would be. It constantly kept me guessing, which was pleasant as a person who usually figures out the mystery right away. Because Britt has also proven herself to be a little idiotic when it comes to boys — and frustratingly dependent on them — it made the question of whether or not he was a good guy that much more compelling. (It’s definitely romance-heavy, and so the middle is a tad slow, but survival scenes still pack a punch.)
Fitzpatrick makes her scenes pop. Certain images are seared into my brain and that’s my taste in regards to books: memorable. It follows all these satisfying tropes while still feeling inventive enough in regards to details — so I was ultimately happy with it. Also, she’s not afraid to be a little gruesome — to dig a little deeper into the “thriller” part of the narrative. By the end, I felt exhausted.
The imagery was stunning, the mystery was enough for me, and the winter atmosphere drenched everything. Character-wise, I wasn’t a huge fan of Britt, but that ended up not being much of a deterrent because Mason was so intriguing. It was surprisingly addictive, and it’s a great pick for curling up in a warm blanket on a chilly December night.