Monday, January 18, 2016

Our Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Hope City, Antarctica was once the tourist destination of tourist destinations. An amusement park filled with wonders and robots. But when the park shut down the workers stayed, making a permanent home for themselves beneath the domes that made this unwelcoming area bearable. 

Eliana Gomez is a private investigator who has lived her entire life under the domes. In truth, she longs to leave for the mainland but the trip is a costly one she's not sure she'll ever afford. That is until Marianella Luna makes a visit to her office. It seems Lady Luna in in possession of some quite damning documents, documents someone has recently taken it upon themselves to liberate her of. She wants them back and she wants Eliana to find them. 

The case turns out to be a rather simple one, but one that puts Eliana and Lady Luna right in the crosshairs of a local mob boss. The very same boss Eliana's lover works for. But the money brought in by the case and those that come after ensure Eliana will finally have the opportunity to leave. If she can survive until Spring. 

I was pretty anxious to read this one from the get go. It sounded like one of the most unique PI novels I'd come across in a LONG time and that definitely turned out to be the case with Cassandra Rose Clarke's latest. 

Not only is the Antarctica setting one I've never seen before, but the subtle twisting of the world was also a stand out. The book itself is not set in our present but instead just a few decades after the park shut down (which was in the 1940s). The world is very insular, all but shutting down outside contact through winter, but there are outside influences from South America. Mostly, though, Hope City is ruled by the "City" powers and the mob. 

Oh, and there are robots. Robots that have started to become sentient. Which is an issue considering it's the robots that maintain the domes that house and protect the people living there. If the domes fail, that's it for Hope City. And during the Last Night celebration (the last night the ships leave for winter, marking the long wait for their return in the spring) the power begins to fail in the domes. 

So the setting here is tense to begin with. There are wealthy folks and criminals who have little to worry about but the rest of the resources are stretched pretty thin. With power beginning to get spotty, everyone in Hope City is on edge. Everyone is looking for someone to blame. The robots are the first ones everyone turns to, but there are other factions at play as well including a group pushing for independence from the mainland. Marianella Luna is a player in the latter, pushing for Hope City to fund agricultural domes that would mean no longer relying on the mainland and the ships for food coming into the city. 

Unfortunately, Marianella Luna's secret, the one she wants Eliana to help her keep, is big enough that it could ruin everything.

Our Lady of the Ice is super cool! If you're into unique settings and well built plots, not to mention fabulously fleshed out characters, I highly recommend checking this one out. It's a bit sci-fi, a bit mystery, and a bit gangster noir, but it's completely unlike anything I think I've ever had the pleasure of diving into!

Rating: 4/5

1 comment:

Literary Feline said...

Ooo! This sounds intriguing, Becky. The setting certainly is different for a mystery. And the cast of characters sounds intriguing. I will definitely have to look this one up.