The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube (ARC): Paranormal Activity Meets Black Swan

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4 stars

Something is wrong with Marianne. She’s blanking out, doing things she would never do. Breaking things, hurting other people. And it’s not because her parents have split up, her mom checked herself into the hospital, or that life hasn’t been the same after quitting dance.

Something is after her. But her attempt at an exorcism calls the thing’s full rage, demanding Marianne give back what she stole. And Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it think it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

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I was really surprised by this one!

I don’t know what I was really expecting, but mystery thrillers still aren’t my favorite genre because they just feel a little drab sometimes.

But this was very much Not Drab™.

The first big plus was how atmospheric it was. I just loved reading the chilly spookiness of the “ghost’s” doings–the blanks in Marianne’s memory where she unexpectedly does something out of character, the spooky voice, and the paranormal occurrences.

It all felt very chilly and haunting, but not enough to scare me away, just enough to put me on edge (which I very much appreciated). I was intrigued by the paranormal activity and wanted to find out why and how and the omg askdjfl.

The cover really does a good job of demonstrating the atmosphere, and if that looks like something you’d like, totally check this one out!

Plus, the “ghost” went from spooky to straight-out creepy, and I loved its progression and how it played tricks on Marianne. This book really makes you question the narrator and wonder if Marianne is accurate about what she’s telling you, or not.

It was definitely cool to see this, because we don’t get very many unreliable narrators in YA.

But, the next thing that was just wonderful was THERE’S A GIRLxGIRL ROMANCE IN THIS BUT NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT IT??? Hello? Marianne literally falls for another girl, and I have no idea why nobody is talking about this and lauding it as the Next Sapphic Big Thing™? So yeah, now you know.

The romance is honestly super low key (probably why it’s not the Next Sapphic Big Thing™) and very much not the focus of the story, but I found it to be a lovely side plot. I totally ship it.

Plus, the subtext of Marianne’s own personal struggles and how it mimicked the “ghost’s” actions was so on point. Like, the red slipper metaphor that showed up throughout the book was really nice to read about, and I enjoyed the meaning behind it. And just the intensity throughout really grew in a way that I enjoyed. The way the pacing moved did a great job of keeping me entertained.

So, if I loved so many things about it, why is it a 4 star?

I honestly don’t know. As much as I was entertained reading it–I totally devoured it in a couple hours–it just didn’t completely click with me. Maybe it’s still the genre that’s holding me back, but I wasn’t 100% obsessed with it. Sometimes I feel like it could have been tweaked a bit to be better.

Also, I wish that Marianne’s past was a bit clearer. Some of the background of what happened that led her to her aunt’s house was a bit unclear for me, and I wanted more solid of a basis for the background.

Overall, I still really loved reading and it was such a good get-out-of-your-skin sort of experience that was deliciously ghostly and spooky! I definitely recommend it if you feel like this spooky, Black Swan x Paranormal Activity pitch sounds like something you’d like! And if you’re scared it’s too horror for you, don’t be! Chilly, but not intended to make you run away screaming.

Thank you so much to Sourcebooks FIRE for the digital and physical copy in exchange for an honest review!

much love, vicky

What spooky books would you recommend for this fall?

7 thoughts on “The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube (ARC): Paranormal Activity Meets Black Swan

  1. Excellent review, Vicky, and I am so glad that you enjoyed this one!

    I finished this book a couple of hours ago and am still processing my thoughts. For reasons that I am not able to pinpoint, I had difficulty getting fully immersed in the story. It was a very interesting premise and executed well, but this book wasn’t for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kaleena! I usually find it difficult to get into any of Schwab’s works (they’re all kind of clinical? exact? precise?) just because of her writing style but the 1st person helped for me in this one. Sad you didn’t like it that much :/

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    2. oh lol I just realized that i am the worst & thought you were talking about City of Ghosts–this is what happens when you post two spooky story reviews in one weekend: you mix up the comments!

      ack! i’m sorry you had a hard time getting immersed in it. I can definitely see how that could happen (some books just don’t click). I hope your next read turns out better, Kaleena!! ❤

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