The Ice Twins by SK Tremayne
Introduced by Eleanor Watkins
I don’t read all that many psychological thrillers, but this one was recommended so I decided to give it a go. It did not disappoint. From Chapter One, I was hooked.
Angus and Sarah Moorcroft are experiencing some tensions in their marriage, particularly since the tragic death of one of their identical twin daughters in an accident. As the story begins, they have decided, somewhat reluctantly on Sarah’s part, to sell up their London home, quit their jobs and make a fresh start by moving to a semi-derelict house on a remote Scottish island. The island and house have been bequeathed to Angus, and he is keen to return to his Scottish roots. But a new and disturbing problem has presented itself; their seven-year-old daughter Kirstie is insisting that she is actually her dead twin, Lydia.
As the story unfolds, with narrators alternating between Angus and Sarah and reflecting their personal viewpoints, secrets and shocking discoveries come to light in a series of unexpected twists and turns. Nothing is quite as it seems. So many people have something to hide. Even the dog is acting in a strangely out-of-character way. And what is the true identity of the little blonde seven-year-old?
The story is brilliantly set on the Inner Hebridean island of Eilean Torran, fictional, but based on the real island of Eilean Sionnach, approached only by a causeway across the mud flats when the tide is out. Life on the island is hard, and alien to Sarah, who finds the primitive conditions of the cottage, the hard physical work, harsh weather and isolation difficult to come to terms with. As strange discoveries are made and tension builds, the weather is also building up to a terrific storm, lashing the island with its cottage and lighthouse, and howling through the firs on the mainland. The final twist in the last chapter took my breath away. I hadn’t seen it coming at all.
Throughout the book there are photos of the actual island with its dwelling and lighthouse, which add to the atmospheric feel.
I learned a lot about the nature and psychology of identical twins in this story. From a writer’s point of view, I also learned a great deal about building suspense, when to withhold information and when to drop a hint that might be picked up by the reader, when to stage a big revelation or introduce another twist in the tale. I will certainly be reading more by this author.
Eleanor Watkins lives near Hay-on-Wye and is the author of over forty children’s books. Her latest book, The Village, is set in Clyro during the Black Death.