The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake

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Sif Sigmarsdottir, The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake, Hodder Childrens Books, July 2019, 360 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781444935301

Hannah Eiriksdottir is not in a happy place. After the death of her mother, she is sent to live with her father in Iceland – a father she barely knows. Hannah’s mother was unpredictable and troubled, and Hannah yearns for a normal life: “To me, boring is perfection.”

Imogen Collins is a social media influencer, leading an apparently glamorous and perfect life. She is also very aware that the life of an influencer “isn’t a career – at least not for life. It’s like being a footballer. You’ve got a few good years in you and then you’re out.” Which is why she is working for an organisation called London Analytica. Imogen has a secret, and keeping that secret is proving to be more and more difficult.

When Hannah is sent by her father (who is the editor of the local newspaper) to interview Imogen while she is in Iceland for work, the two young women unexpectedly find themselves immersed in a dark world of intrigue, leading ultimately to murder.

Chapters alternate between Hannah and Imogen’s points of view, and reference their Instagram posts. Sigmarsdottir uses the first person for Hannah, and the third person for Imogen, making Hannah’s point of view the focus of the novel.

The author has tackled a lot of issues in this book, including mental health, sexual assault, grief, and the sometimes corrosive power of social media. As Hannah ruminates, “It’s strange how another person’s accomplishment can diminish your whole existence. It’s like you’re only as good/worthy/talented as the next person is crap.” Imogen too is very aware of the addiction of a high profile on social media: “ It’s the buzz she gets when she wakes up in the morning and sees that she is seen, she is heard, she is loved. The feeling is more invigorating than coffee.”

I have seen Sigmarsdottir referred to as a feminist writer. The young women in this novel certainly carry the story; the young men they are involved with are mere caricatures, and I found it difficult to distinguish between the two of them! Hannah and Imogen are three dimensional characters: sometimes a bit whiney, sometimes brave and sometimes self-doubting. Young adult readers will find themselves easily relating to them both.

The novel finishes with a teaser, and an obvious segue to a second book involving Hannah investigating a further mystery.

There are issues in this book that make it unsuitable for younger readers, and I would recommend it for readers 14 years old plus.

Reviewed by Gaby Meares

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