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Review: “The Dark Beneath the Ice” is a terrifying and impressive debut

The Dark Beneath the Ice, written by Amelinda Berube. Photo courtesy by GoodReads.
The Dark Beneath the Ice, written by Amelinda Berube. Photo courtesy by GoodReads.

Canadian author Amelinda Bérubé’s debut novel “The Dark Beneath the Ice” released on Aug. 7 from Sourcebooks Fire. This story falls under the young adult genre, geared towards a teenage audience but still riveting for older readers as well.

“The Dark Beneath the Ice” follows a Canadian teenager, Marianne Vandermere.

Marianne hasn’t felt normal for quite some time. With her parents’ bitter divorce looming, her once-tight family begins to unravel, and recent occurrences– strange, creepy episodes that Marianne can’t explain– threaten to consume her. Marianne struggles to keep herself together, even as the being inside of her starts to threaten the ones she loves. One disastrous attempt at an exorcism only worsens the situation. As Marianne gets closer to the truth of what’s happening to her, she’s forced to reckon with the darkest, secret parts of herself.

This thrilling debut was so intense in the best way possible. I’ve never really read a ‘horror’ book before, but Bérubé pulled it off in a really interesting and creepy way. With elements reminiscent of “Black Swan,” Marianne’s psychological crisis is intertwined so tightly with the supernatural occurrences unfolding around her that it becomes impossible to differentiate the two.

But unlike too many horror stories that often rely too heavily on shock value and cheap thrills, “The Dark Beneath the Ice” manages to be dreadfully intriguing without sacrificing genuine characterization and development.

Marianne’s first-person narration carries the story with a fascinating and haunting perspective while the supporting cast of characters also feel fleshed-out and significant. The story explores themes beyond the supernatural; Marianne’s tentative romance with another girl is an excellently crafted subplot, and Marianne’s family drama permeates the story with realistic and relatable issues.

The ending takes a while to fully register and comprehend, which is a little confusing after such a strong and intense build-up, but is ultimately acceptable.

“The Dark Beneath the Ice” is a fantastic novel and a sure sign of great things to come from Bérubé.



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