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The Ice Swan Review

Updated: Nov 24

“For some, the agony would never end. For some like Svetlana, a war still raged in a distant country that no longer wanted her. She had been cast into the shadow, left searching for where the light might shine.”


The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski is a complex literary masterpiece with many different facets that come together flawlessly. Russia, Paris, Scotland, a revolution, the Great War, Russian mobsters, ballet, and cardiology all converge in this emotional rollercoaster. It is written in a poignant, yet succinct style. The page is stripped bare of any superfluity, and what is left is a clear and beautiful portrayal that at once holds captive the emotions and immerses the reader in each very different setting.


One of my many favourite things about this book was Svetlana’s character. She is truly unlike any character I’ve come across before. While such an austere character could easily be off-putting, her personality was brilliantly handled. With the combination of her up-bringing and the experiences that led her to Paris, her beyond-jaded outlook on life was completely necessary. Had she been given a softer temperament, it simply would not have fit with her history, culture, and character.


Another thing I loved was the way Wynn’s light-heartedness proved the perfect counterpoint to Svetlana’s mistrust. Their romance was not rushed, but was allowed time to develop properly and for that, it was all the better.


I also adored the medical aspect of the story and was fascinated to learn so much about the origins of cardiology. Wynn’s passion for saving lives and improving methods of medical practice were exquisitely displayed. It was clear that a huge amount of research went into writing this book, yet not once was there an information overload; everything enriched the plot, never distracting from it.


The cast of supporting characters was excellent. They provided the perfect amount of comic relief, wisdom, and blunt honesty at the times when they were most needed. It just wouldn’t have been the same without them, especially Mrs Varjensky and Leonid.


I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in revolutionary Russia, or the history of cardiology, as well as fans of Historical Romance, WWI Romance, Kate Breslin, Rachel McMillan, Kimberly Duffy, Roseanna White, and Joanne Bischof.


5 Stars


Note: I received a copy of this book though Celebrate Lit Tours. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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