Saturday, 24 May 2014

ABNA: Ice Diaries' Publishers Weekly review

As an ABNA quarter finalist, my novel Ice Diaries was entitled to a review from Publishers Weekly. The reviews are brief, mostly plot summary, and not necessarily flattering, though there is the odd truly enthusiastic one that makes you think the novel is a dead cert for the semi-finals. 

For those who are interested, some entrants have posted their reviews on US Amazon forums. Here's mine, not a rave but not bad either:

ABNA Publishers Weekly Review of Ice Diaries:

In this post-apocalyptic novel set in the year 2018, London and most of the world's northern climes have been buried beneath hundreds of feet of snow. Survivors of the SIRCS pandemic and climate change band together for safety. Main character Tori lives in a small community that works together democratically to raid local stores for supplies. She is happy with her small band of friends until a mysterious stranger appears in their midst. The once peaceful, autonomous community begins to crumble as first Dominic Morgan, a former mixed martial arts fighter recovering from a knife wound, questions their methods of survival, and then more fighters, hunting for Morgan, arrive. Tension mounts and Tori begins to seriously consider her long-term survival and whether her path might be linked with Morgan's future.

The author creates realistic and varied characters that blend convincingly into this post-apocalyptic world, showcasing both Tori and Morgan's emotional growth as the story progresses. The snowy London landscape feels well thought out, creating a setting that evokes a palpable layer of danger throughout the novel, giving readers a distinct and immediate reason to root for Tori's escape to warmer climes. Engaging and solidly written, readers will be hoping for more of Tori in the future.


  1. It sounds pretty glowing to me.

    One thing I think they missed out (although I may be remembering wrongly) is that Tori wants to go South right from the beginning to escape to warmer climes. That was why the ending seemed so satisfactory to me even though there's a whole adventure still ahead of her.

    Or did I misremember?

  2. No, you're right, FH, Tori is aware right from the start that supplies will inevitably run out and she needs to find a way to leave.

    I'm amazed the reviewer noticed Morgan's first name, which is mentioned once in the book and which he never uses and nobody calls him.

  3. It's much better than "not bad." Maybe it's not a rave, but it's consistently positive. "Realistic and varied characters" "landscape feels well thought out," "engaging and solidly written" - that sounds like a recommend to me. I think that's an evaluation to be proud of.

  4. Judith, that's true (except I always think 'solidly' a dubious commendation).

    But in each section, only five out of a hundred quarter finalists will go through to the next round. For that, a rave review may be essential :o)

  5. Lexi...who knows about going to the next round. I've only seen one rave review out of many posted on the discussion boards. Yeah, you are probably right, but I'll be checking on June 13th to see if my entry The Globe is moving on just the same. Congratulations on the good review.

  6. Stephen, I've seen three or four rave reviews, I think - and most authors don't post on the forums.

    And of course, it's not what the PW reviewers said, it's the marks they allotted...

  7. Yes, it looks good, but I can understand Lexi's concerns. With so few being allowed through, the reviewers need to rave about your work. However, haven't we all seen how it is not always the winners who ultimately become the famous and best?

    Cheering you on!

  8. Thanks Anna!

    Donald A. Shinn commented on the forums, "Really good writers (Colleen Hoover in 2012) have gotten the boot early when they found the wrong reader in the Vine stage. Since she's now a five or six time NY Times bestselling author, it didn't really harm her any, but if she can get the boot then anyone can get the boot."

    One of the things I really like about ABNA these days (and it wasn't so in 2008 when I last entered) is that getting people to vote for you isn't necessary until the contestants are whittled down to the final five.

  9. Ah... that's key to letting the real talent through to high visibility - no voting until the final five. Though anyone who has been on a peer reviewing site will know that 'the wrong reader' can dash your chances.

    Let's hope you get the right reader.