Very few novels that I have read master atmosphere the way Vesaas has. From the moment you begin the novel until the moment the novel has finished, you feel as if you yourself are living in a palace of ice, surrounded by blizzard, the nape of your fingers shivering, the skin of your cheeks set to thaw. The novel centers on the friendship of two girls, Unn and Siss. The title of the novel is taken from the style of ice castles created when waterfalls freeze. Unn climbs into one of these structures and ends up dying.
Whether Unn truly ever dies is hard to tell. The novel after all is narrated in the perspective of two young girls, and the way that they perceive the world around them. It mysteries, its lack of color, its tundra stench. From Siss’ way of seeing the story, Unn never died, but became a part of her; the language blurs between their perspectives in a way even after Unn is supposedly gone. The novel is told entirely in a language of subtly, with every sentence building both Siss’ interior world, and tying it to the realm of the ice to which she belongs. Long after having finished the novel, I am still not sure what has become of these two girls, but I feel that the novel, despite being barely 130 pages, is open enough to be reread and rediscovered and reinterpreted, as any great work of art need be. Perhaps not the most influential novel I have read, but in most technical terms, a masterpiece.