I was gifted this book by Welbeck publishing in exchange for an honest review. I will admit I haven’t read the first book in the Jessica Niemi series, The Witch Hunter, but I feel it hasn’t hindered my enjoyment of the book.
Investigator Jessica Niemi is in a race against time to find the link between a body with strange markings that has washed up on a frigid shore in Finland and two baffling disappearances in this terrifying new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch Hunter.
Six months have passed since Jessica’s encounter with the mysterious serial-killing coven of witches and the death of her mentor. Her nightmares about her mother and the witchcraft that undid her have only gotten worse, but she’s doing what she can to stay focused. Her homicide squad, now under new leadership, has been given a murder case and a new series of disappearances to investigate. A young woman’s corpse has washed up on an icy beach, and two famous Instagram influencers have gone missing at the same time.
The missing influencers and the murdered woman all have ties to a sinister cult. Jessica finds an eerie painting–of a lighthouse on a remote island–as she investigates, and under the picture is a gruesome poem detailing a murder. The nightmares about her mother suddenly seem all too real, making Jessica wonder if the dead woman might be trying to tell her something about the killings. And as Jessica works frantically to solve her latest case, her horrific past comes roaring back and threatens to destroy her.
I have always been a fan of thrillers, so I was intrigued to read one set in Finland. This is a country I have wanted to visit for some time. I love the beauty of the country, heard the way of life is so much more peaceful than the UK, and I am a big fan of much of their music. In fact, one of my favourite bands, Poets of the Fall come from there.
I found that although I didn’t know the places they mention in the book I could easily imagine what they look like as the writer’s scene setting skills are superb. Having the novel set in a different location other than America or England was both a refreshing change as well as making me want to read more thrillers set in other countries.
The general coldness of the country during the season it is set in the book made the setting even more sinister. The use and imagery of ice being used as a prison through part of the story was both perfect and chilling (in both senses)
The Ice Coven starts out as it means to go on, full of action, sinister undertones, and violent ends. This is not a story for the faint-hearted, but perfect for those looking for a dark, sinister thriller.
Every character in the book was very well written, I didn’t feel as if any were lacking in personality or depth. The way that Max used each chapter as a window into different characters gave us a good insight of the character’s personalities and lives which made them even more relatable. This combined with their use of pop culture references brought the whole story to life in so many ways.
Another aspect of Max’s story writing I very much enjoyed were the interactions between the characters. His description of the character’s actions, body language, tone and even stance brought them to life in a way not many people can. His ability to describe a situation, even the most emotional one, using all these factors really enhances the story and adds further depth and life to the characters.
The main character, Detective Jessica Niemi is the perfect example of how character building should be done. Throughout the story we get flashes of her past which allows us to understand why she acts in certain ways and how she struggles to deal with the past which has caused her several issues affecting her life now. We also see how relationships with her work colleagues, grow (or in some cases diminish) as the story progresses. Her whole character arc kept you guessing throughout and the description of every aspect of herself from body language to her social skills created a vivid picture of who she was, who she is now and who she may become by the end of the story.
One aspect which always appeals to me which was utilised in this novel are the insights into all aspects of the investigation from the police interviews to forensic analysis. This has always been an area of great interest to me, and his use of this reminds me of other writers such as Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell to name a few, who also show us the inner workings of murder investigations. By being given access to all areas of the investigation we get a picture of the whole scene as well as who makes up the team; from the Captain, who appears to take an instant disliking to Jessica to the hard-working coroner.
This novel will have you second guessing yourself many times and will leave you unable to stop reading. It is action-packed, perfectly paced with a mixture of emotional, tense and down-right moments which will have you on the edge of your seat.
After reading this I will definitely be hunting down Max’s first novel in the series, The Witch Hunter, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what Detective Jessica Niemi does next in this series.
⭐⭐⭐⭐- a twisty, dark, chilling ride which will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. This is a stunning read, and I highly recommend it for any thriller fan. This is a book you will struggle to put down.
The Ice Coven is out on 17th September.
Are you a thriller fan? Have you read any of Max Seeck’s works? Let me know in the comments below.
Much love 💘