Cover Image: The Ice Whisperers

The Ice Whisperers

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Member Reviews

I loved the premise of this story, two sisters separated by time and spiritual space, the baddie being closer to them then they first believed and a thrilling race against time to save everyone they love.

The imagery is beautiful, the characters are well rounded and likeable (the good ones anyway) and it has echoes of The Wild Way Home and The Wolf Princess.

A brilliant read for this time of year
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The Ice Whisperers starts 40,000 years in the past with a girl called Ren-ya. Her people were trying to escape the fearsome ‘white eyes’.
Fast forward to Poland, 1910 and we meet Bela. She’s lost both her parents: her mum has recently passed away and her dad went missing on an expedition, presumed dead. She must now live with her uncle whom she doesn’t know much about.
To make matters worse, Bela has an unusual skill - she can taste what people are thinking and feeling, but she can’t talk to anyone about it because it wouldn’t be accepted. Bela is determined to find out what happened to her dad and before long, hers and Ren-ya’s worlds collide.
I found the story gripping and gasped out loud in a few places, particularly earlier on in the book. I liked the relationship between Bela and Ren-ya as they tried to work out how to get along together. They’re very similar in a lot of ways, both determined but also quite stubborn, and being from different time periods, they had much to learn about each other’s way of life.
The book was serious at times and covered some sensitive subject matters. It is suitable for Year 5 and up but you may want to exercise caution, depending on the child. Definitely one for fans of Frostheart!
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I love wintery middle-grade stories and this one drew me in immediately with a stunning cover. With a sprinkling of mythology thrown in too, I knew I was going to enjoy this snowy adventure.

When her mother dies, Bela is sent to live with her uncle in Siberia. But her uncle has a workshop full of strange, cruel experiments and Bela stumbles upon a secret that she never could have imagined. Finding herself in a beautiful, desolate land of ice and snow, Bela meets Ren-ya, a girl her own age who also happens to be her sister… born 40,000 years before Bela! Together, Bela and Ren-ya must overthrow the evil that haunts Ren-ya’s homeland and forge an unbreakable sisterly bond.

The book is accompanied by beautiful illustrations from Marco Guadalupi and they add a really lovely dimension to the story. The simple, charming style lends itself perfectly to the narrative and propel it along its magical course.

Bela comes from a time and place where women are dismissed, ridiculed and neglected. She knows to immediately challenge these narrow-minded views and never doubts that her mother deserved much better treatment than she got. I got really frustrated listening to Krol’s explanation of Bela’s mother’s fate and held out hope that there was a chance for her daughter(s) to avenge her.

Both Bela and Ren-ya have the ability to taste what I would call auras. As soon as they enter a room or new place, they can taste the vibe and emotion that it holds. I don’t think I’ve ever met a character who has this power before and I was really intrigued. It’s an ability that helps out both girls a lot and I was really intrigued about its origins. I can only assume that their mother shared the same power and that it comes from the ancient magic at the heart of the tribe.

There is some bits of mythology in the book too, which I really appreciated. Ren-ya’s world is set in prehistory, which I know so little about. I would have loved more of this aspect weaving through the story, as a sign that some of the oldest, magical things on Earth are ever-present. Eagle, Crow and Raven are fascinating characters and I wanted more of them, their history and relationships.

Bela and Ren-ya seem like complete opposites when they meet. Ren-ya feels that Bela is a very sheltered, sensitive soul (which she is) and Bela is shocked by Ren-ya’s savagery. Stachera does a great job of slowly growing the sisters’ relationship and it was lovely to watch. Much of the book is actually about the girls coming to understand each other and realising they have a lot more in common than they initially thought.

The Ice Whisperers is a whimsical, compelling story that stretches across miles and miles of magical landscape. With themes of sisterhood and belonging, it’s quite dark at times and ventures deep into unknown history. A unique fantasy with wonderful, feisty characters.
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I quite enjoyed this original story. It was really descriptive and was heavy on the world building. A bit too heavy for me but that's my own personal preference.
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3.5 stars. Interesting premise, good world creation but I thought it fell a bit flat at times. I enjoyed it but it wasn't as memorable as I was expecting - the pace of the relationship between the sisters didn't seem quite right. The scenes in the cave with the terrifying hiding being were spooky and well drawn.
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This book is a story of two sisters, born thousands of years apart. When Bela is sent to live with her Uncle after the death of her mother she is utterly miserable and it doesnt improve when she gets there. She really struggles to find out what is going on in the old house but when she does she finds out she is in danager. She flees to try and find out what happened to her parents. 

I really enjoyed this story - it was a great childrens/young adult book. I really enjoyed the beautiful illustrations in this book too they really added a lot to the story. This was very easy to follow even when it alternated between the two characters. Bela was a very brave character and its always good to have a strong female main character. I also really enjoyed the history of Bela's people. A great read for both young and old.
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I saw this book while looking at netgalley and the premise hit me as something that seemed unique and one that made me want to know more. 

The family relationships in this is sewn seemlessly and you feel every moment of belonging that the characters are looking for. 

I will be recommending this to people who like frozen and Frostheart because this is a great middle grade polar fantasy that we often are looking for in the world, and it does it very very well. I cannot wait to read more from this author who was new to me, but now I really want to read more.
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‘The Ice Whisperers’ successfully brings together fear, mystery, friendship, betrayal and so many other elements as the main character takes a journey from Poland in 1910 to the ancient spiritual world. Stachera’s writing evokes the atmosphere and surroundings perfectly and the two sisters are equally frustrating and yet likeable.
This will definitely appeal to those children and young teenagers who like their reading to be a little fantastical and yet also, somehow, quite believable. This would be a lovely book to read with a child at bedtime or as a group reader in school.
Thank you to Puffin Books (Penguin Random House Children’s) and NetGalley for this free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A lovely little story about adventure, magic, sisterhood, and family; by the good and the bad.
Bela is a 13 year old girl, unloved, hidden and seen as a shame upon her family. One day, she is summoned to her uncles estate. She hopes to find out about her parents, who she never knew. This path leads her into an adventure she never even dreamed she would ever have and sister she never knew she had.
What makes this story different to others that I have read is the fact that it mixes theories from our world about prehistoric humans and adds elements of magic and otherworldliness to it. I really enjoyed that aspect of it and feel like children would enjoy that element too, especially if they have an interest in prehistoric things like mammoths and dinosaurs.

This book is perfect for children and I know I would have loved to have read this when I was young.
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A story set in two worlds, one in Poland in 1910, the other in a spirit world 40,000 years in the past.

After her mother’s death, Bela is sent to live with her uncle in Siberia.  She is disappointed when it is not the home she was hoping for.  Her uncle is a strange, cold man and Bela senses that he is not to be trusted.  One of the aspects of the story I particularly liked was Bela’s ability to “taste” people’s emotions and feelings.  In an attempt to find out the truth about her mother, she is transported to the past, where she meets her sister, Ren-ya, a hunter.

Much of the focus of the book is on the relationship between the two girls, and the way they start to work together.  Initially Ren-ya seems to be the stronger of the two, but Bela has other abilities, which become more important as the story progresses.

This is a very enjoyable read, for 10 to 12 year olds.  Some of the scientific concepts were a little involved, so whilst a younger reader might enjoy the adventure, they might not appreciate all the detail.  I liked the references to female education, particularly at the end of the book.  Bela makes me think of the young Marie Curie!
Thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
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When Bela's mother dies she is summoned back to her Uncle's house in Siberia where she learns that she has been lied to about her parents' deaths. She escapes into a mysterious spirit world and discovers a family that she never knew she had, including a half-sister called Ren-ya. But can she save them and their world from the destructive influence of her Uncle? And will Ren-ya ever accept her as family?

This is a fascinating, if sometimes bewildering concept, involving time travel, cryogenics, a mystical spirit world and an alternative prehistoric civilisation. But at its heart it's a story about finding family, despite the barrier of 40,000 years, and about the bond between sisters. (Although the Frozen-style cover of this book is slightly misleading, this is a lot darker than the Disney tale!)

I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric, emotive and imaginative tale. Perfect cosy reading for winter!
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The Ice Whisperers by Helenka Stachera is a middle grade fantasy that takes readers back to the Ice Age. The framing narrative is set in pre-revolutionary Russia, and the story then transports readers and characters into a dream-world close to the Ice Age. It centres Bela, who was raised as something of an orphan by extended relatives and never truly felt like she belonged, as she discovers that there is more to her parentage as she ever suspected. There is a lot to this story that is sweet, and I can see many young readers enjoying Bela’s adventures. But it is also not one that stands out enough in terms of writing and characters for me to recommend this over some of the other middle grades I’ve been reading. I think this is an author to watch, even if this particular book isn’t quite a standout success yet.
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I still haven’t quite decided whether I enjoyed this book. Maybe the feeling of The Woman in White that followed me as I read the first part unsettled me. In a fairly predictable opening, Bela arrives at the uncle’s house to find everything far from rosy. The servants or assistants behave in a strange way towards her. But as a spunky girl heroine should, she overcomes her fears and starts exploring. By now we’ve learnt enough about her father’s disappearance to suspect what’s happening. Sure enough, Bela manages to get herself back in time to meet her half-sister. I don’t think that’s a spoiler as it’s in the blurb.

The story about how they turn from mutual dislike to sisterhood is reasonably believable, since they tackle many difficult tasks together, with some assistance from spirit world people and birds. It’s well-written, and the story should have peaks of excitement enough to keep a younger reader turning the pages. It didn’t do it for me, though, and whenever I put it down it took me ages to remember to pick it up again. And it was easy to do so–no difficulty remembering the plot, or who was who. Am I expecting too much?

I’ve given it a generous four stars, because I think it deserves more than three, for the world-building and characterisation alone. But there are plenty of four star books I’d prefer.
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Ice Whisperers is a story that spans two lives, two times and one great secret.

Bela lives in 1910 Poland. Her father has disappeared and her mother is unwell. Raised by her Great Aunt, she has never been good enough. When she receives news that her mother has died, she is sent to live with her uncle in Siberia. Her journey throws up all sorts of questions. Who can she trust? Why is she there? What happened to her mother and father? Discovering more secrets than answers, she has to take things into her own hands.

40,000 years in the past, Renya lives in the Spirit World. Her life is built around survival and proving her strength to her tribe. Her people are being threatened by the “white-eyes” – warriors who want to destroy them. If they succeed, Renya’s clan will disappear.

A crystal orb, an unusual tattoo on Bela’s hand, and her unique sense of taste might provide the answers and connections she’s looking for. Two sisters born 40,000 years apart, with a common enemy and a common goal. Perhaps they aren’t that different after all. 

Ice Whisperers is a story of trust and family. It links us to our ancestors and our hopes and dreams.
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This Middle Grade book set in icy Siberia is just the sort of book to read on cosy winter evenings. We have folklore, magic, sisters, brothers, danger - a perfect mix.
When Bela is sent for by her Uncle Viktor after the death of her mother she expects/hopes to find family. She finds secrets and danger. She was sent to live with her Aunt Olga when she was a baby and never knew either of her parents. Her mother stayed with Uncle Viktor as she was ill and her father when he went off on an expedition. However, when she arrives at the house she finds that things were not as she had been led to believe and that actually, her life is in danger and escapes from the house. Her escape - into the spirit world - brings her together with a sister she never knew she had, a sister born 40,000 years previously.
The relationship between the two girls is magical to read about - how they discover the meaning of family and the sacrifices that must sometimes be made because the spirit world is not the world that it once was - danger has arrived and the two girls must defeat it to return it to the place that it once was.
This is an enchanting book, with some gruesome parts that youngsters will probably love. the descriptions, the magic, the characters keep you turning the pages and the illustrations are charming. I'd love to see them for real rather than on a Kindle as I never feel that the digital image allows a reader to experience a drawings real beauty. The ending is sad and hopeful and satisfying all at the same time. 
Another success from Netgalley - thank you - I've already picked this out as one to purchase as a Christmas present for my friend's daughter.
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This is a really sweet book, a reasonably short book but which packs a lot of drama into it.

It’s a tale of love, sacrifice, but it’s also very exciting with plenty of baddies.

My thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House Children’s UK for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review
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A beautiful tale of finding who you are and where you belong. The acceptance of others regardless of appearance, race or culture and the general good of humanity to over come evil. 

I started this book with anticipation- I am not normally a fan of fantasy/other worlds but there was something about the description that sparked my interest. I was not disappointed- I very quickly found my self absorbed in the lives of Bella and Ren- ya. Desperate to have 5 minutes peace where I could pick up and read on. 

The descriptions in the book build such vivid images - there were a few parts I found a little bit graphic for my own Squimishness however I didn’t find them off putting or a reason not to enjoy the book. 

I don’t want to spoil the story for others by giving anything away- there were many twists that I did not see coming and I think everyone should be able to experience the same magic that I did when reading. 

I felt a very strong message about acceptance of other cultures and races throughout the book. This is a message which I feel is so very important now. 

I would recommend this book for age 11+.
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What a phenomenal book- one that I am still reeling from.  Exciting from the very beginning, readers are plunged head first into the drama and danger of Bela’s world.  She has lived with her Great Aunt for 12 years but now, on the death of her mother, is being sent to live in the house in which she perished.  Bela has never known her parents and wishes to know more about them.  This trip could set those questions free and allow her to feel part of a family.  
Her journey to Siberia is one of uncertainty but a level of hope for a greater chance at love and happiness.  However, it is worse than she could have imagined and there are plenty of harsh discoveries for Bela to make regarding her parents and her Uncle Viktor.  
A totem, a small orb with the power to transport a sleeping human into the spirit world is the cause of much danger and violence in the story.  It also has the power to reunite and bring family closer together.  Saving herself from her Uncle, Bela enters this world and must truly learn about her mother, the tribe she belonged to and find the truth about her father and Uncle.
Steeped in legend and filled with exciting and dangerous moments, this fast paced book will have readers unable to tear themselves away.  Bela, Ren-ya and the tribe are brilliantly written characters, courageous, determined and loyal. They worship the spirits of their ancestors and fear the “white-eye” (men from the future).  Viktor is a villain completely ruled by the hunger to rule the spirit world and his hatred for his younger brother.
This is one that will enthral and enchant readers completely!
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This book tells the story of two girls Ren-Ya and Bela. One from the spirit world and the other - the living. It see them go on great adventures to learn about their past and present, to understand each other and what they mean to each other. With most of the book set to the backdrop of icy tundras, mountains and caves with wolves, birds of prey, magic and folklore, this tale is exciting and intriguing. The two main characters grow together to solve the challenges they face in order to save the day. 

I love the atmosphere of the story and beautiful illustrations. The story was really enchanting and endearing.
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Two sisters, born 40,000 years apart, ice age vast wildernesses, and a race to save a hidden world; this book promised so much, but it failed to connect with me unfortunately.

There is plenty to admire about this, the search for place and family, the bond of sisterhood, the danger of the icy world, connection with ancestors and finding your tribe, but I think it just told to much and showed too little.  The dialogue felt a bit forced, and, while we found out what each character lacked, we didn't really get to know their characters, or see them grow.  Ren-ya rejected her sister at first, but it wasn't Bela who changed her mind, or any of the things they went through, but a vision of her mother, who told her they needed to get along, which meant that their bond didn't feel real or strong. 

I think many readers will love the adventure, but I just wasn't really convinced or gripped by it, personally, so it took me a while to read, I liked everything about the premise though.
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