The Ice Twins by SK Tremayne

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The Ice Twins 200

Angus and Sarah Moorcroft are living an enviable life. Angus is an architect, Sarah a freelance journalist and the couple live in a fashionable part of London. The picture is completed by identical twin daughters, Kirstie and Lydia. Born on the coldest day of the year, with ice-blue eyes and snowy blonde hair, their grandfather immediately dubs them The Ice Twins, and the name sticks.

Then one of the girls falls to her death and the Moorcrofts’ perfect world is shattered. Angus turns to the bottle, while Sarah comes close to a breakdown. But they have to put on a brave face for their surviving daughter, Kirstie, who obviously feels the loss most of all. More than a year later, it is time to do something drastic. Their solution? To up sticks and move up to the remote Scottish island that Angus inherited from his grandmother. A clean break from the past is just what they need to find their way again as a family. Or is it?

Sarah has only ever seen Eilean Torran on the internet. It is in the Sound of Sleat and is home to a lighthouse and a cottage which is in a parlous state, but the couple roll up their sleeves and try to set the place to rights. The same can’t be said for their relationship, which is frayed almost to breaking point. And just when it looks like things can’t get any worse, an increasingly disturbed seven-year-old Kirstie shocks her mother to the core by claiming to be Lydia. Could it be true? And if so, what can Sarah do about it?

The narrative skips between Sarah and Angus and it soon becomes plain that they are desperately hiding things from each other. The picture perfect family is all a charade and it is surely only a matter of time before the whole thing crumbles to dust. Their feelings for each other seem to ebb and flow like the tide, with their daughter the only thing that holds them together. But relying on Kirstie/Lydia is a  mistake. The little girl is obviously struggling with her own inner demons – and as her behaviour becomes more and more erratic, she is shunned by her new classmates and retreats into a world of her own, haunted by her dead sister.

The enigmatic SK Tremayne has previously written under another name and is also an award winning travel writer. That skill shows here, because the fictional island of Torran and its surrounding areas are brought to life in high definition clarity. You may even find yourself clutching your winter woolly a little closer as the chills permeate from the pages – and I’m not only talking temperature here!

The Ice Twins is a dark, disturbing and claustrophobic psychological thriller that stealthily pulls you in and refuses to let you go. The setting has a lot to do with it – much of the action takes place on the tiny and increasingly terrifying Eilean Torran. The name translates to Thunder Island, and it is at the height of an awful storm that the action comes to a bone shattering climax that is destined to haunt you for months to come. I read this book in a day and couldn’t put it down – my top five books of 2015 already has a strong contender!

The Ice Twins comes out on 29 January.

Harper Collins

CFL Rating: 5 Stars

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