"Unn looked down into an enchanted world of small pinnacles, gables, frosted domes, soft curves and confused tracery. All of it was ice, and the water spurted between, building it up continually. Branches of the waterfall had been diverted and rushed into new channels, creating new forms. Everything shone. The sun had not yet come, but it shone ice-blue and green of itself, and deathly cold."
Cold and clear runs this story, too, every short chapter spare, rimed and held by a frozen intensity. Tarjei Vesaas' The Ice Palace is about two young girls, Unn and Siss, and what happens when, embarrassed by a misunderstanding, Unn decides not to face her friend at school next day but instead to go alone to the ice palace. The palace is the extraordinary natural structure caused by the freezing of a waterfall after a long spell of intensely cold weather. No-one remembers seeing this phenomenon before, and it will not remain for long, but Unn is drawn to venture inside its chambers and to explore its glassy depths, and what happens then will have far-reaching consequences.
Inward-looking and set starkly in a landscape virtually featureless but for the ice-bound lake and the glacial force, the book is subtle and sombre, memorable for its simplicity and its strangely unsettling atmosphere; in one sense of the word, utterly chilling.