The Ice Maze (Kingdom of the Lost #3)

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Isobelle Carmody, The Ice Maze (Kingdom of the Lost #3),  Viking/Penguin Random House Australia,  3 July 2017,  352pp.,  $19.99 (hbk),  ISBN: 9780670077915

Bily and Zluty, the injured Monster and two diggers journey into a land of ice and darkness. Here they learn more about the mysterious Makers’ plan, and the Monster must make a dreadful choice…

The Ice Maze is the much anticipated third part in Isobelle Carmody’s The Kingdom of the Lost, and continues the story of brothers Bily and Zluty as they make their way across unknown lands, encountering strange sights and new creatures as they seek help for their friend the Monster, and a new place to call home.

To review this book I had to read the first two parts of the series first, and from the very beginning of the tale I was hooked.  The world of these books is endlessly fascinating… something about it reminds me of the kinds of stories I read when I was a child, they have in them an innocence – a simple belief in the goodness of people and the world – and yet there are darker elements, represented by the characters and situations that place the protagonists in peril.   A journey into the unknown, strange forces at work… all concepts that enthral the younger reader.

Bily and Zluty are our heroes, and while we (the readers) sometimes know more than they do, their unique way of interpreting the world around them has us looking at our own world in a different way (referring to snow as “coldwhites”, etc). Perhaps that is one of Carmody’s aims – to challenge the reader to examine what they think they know from a different point of view.

Carmody’s writing is simple enough for young readers to follow on their own, but beautiful and poetic enough to paint a rich tapestry of colours, emotions and exciting adventures.

I’m hoping that the next instalment (due for release in June 2018) will answer the many questions that I have… then again, maybe too much explanation might not be such a good thing!  Maybe it’s enough that these characters inhabit a world that bears some eerie similarities to our own, without there ever having to be some grand reveal… some elements of the story lead me to believe that the world of The Kingdom of the Lost is actually our world, either post-apocalypse or some kind of alternate reality… but then again I read and watch a LOT of science fiction and I may be overthinking it just a tad.

If you’ve not read the first two books I heartily recommend picking them up – the story makes for a grand journey that put me in mind of Wu Cheng-En’s Monkey, with its wonderful storytelling style and its spirit of wonder and adventure.  I’m eagerly awaiting book four… I have to know what happens next!

Reviewed by Christian Price

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