The Thickness of Ice

By (author): Gerard Beirne

The Thickness of Ice is a tender and tragic tale set in the remote sub-arctic tundra, in the small town of Churchill with a transient population on Hudson Bay. The barren icy landscape pervades the characters’ lives and relationships. As the novel opens Wade confesses that he was responsible for the death of his best friend Jack, out on the tundra, three years after meeting him. They had been arguing about a Dene woman, Tess, they were both in love with. Jack’s body was never found, and Wade never admitted to the act. It was assumed that Jack had left abruptly. However, many years later, Wade meets Esther who moves to Churchill to live with him. She hears the story of Jack’s disappearance. For Wade’s sake, she determines to resolve what happened to Jack and bring some closure. For Wade, everything is now threatened.


“Set in the Canadian tundra, Gerard Beirne’s exquisite novel The Thickness of Ice is more than a love story; it’s a story of culpability and redemption, propelled by a twenty-five-year-old mystery. . . . Breathtaking and immersive, The Thickness of Ice is a snowbound, heartwarming mystery novel marked by love and beauty, friendship and betrayal, and the darkness of the human heart.” STARRED REVIEW, Elaine Chiew, Foreword Reviews (May / June 2024)

“This is a beautifully cadenced novel of loneliness and desire. The evocation of the physical world is wonderful, the synthesis of the weather of the heart and the elemental landscape is stunning. Prose of grace and clarity is ballasted with real narrative drive as past ghosts emerge. Powerful, evocative, haunting, The Thickness of Ice is an extraordinary novel.” Eoin McNamee, screenwriter, Longlisted Man Booker Prize for Blue Tango, author of 19 novels

“A deft and moving tale of love and loss on life’s cold margins, in which character is fate, and landscape is character.” Ed O’Loughlin, Giller Finalist and Man Booker Prize nominee

“Ice takes place in a brooding landscape where polar bears wander ice floes as a rocket range launches nose cones and payloads into space over the floes and animals. Ice and fire, courtship and confession, guilt and forgiveness: these all culminate in an exquisite and haunting love story.” Mark Anthony Jarman (author of Burn Man: Selected Stories)

“A masterpiece in cadence, rhythm, metaphor, symbolism. Beirne’s characters are rich in detail even as we get so few details, and he has created a landscape so vivid in its emptiness and coldness, and at the same time so mythical, that I was awestruck page after page. Chapter 18 is an opera.” Leila Marshy, Author of Philistine

“Clever writing and pacing make this story not only believable but serve to draw the reader in as all the characters are likeable in their way, but all have their flaws, cracks in their characters (…) One can tell when good writing is unfolding right before their eyes.” STARRED REVIEW, James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader

About his first novel: The Eskimo in the Net

“Wonderful clear prose and sensitive observation in a tough environment make this an outstanding debut work, scandalously ignored by this year’s Man Booker judges.” Daily Express

“Beirne’s descriptive writing is superb. He evokes the atmosphere of the town brilliantly, along with the surrounding landscape.” Books Ireland


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360 Pages
8.50in * 5.50in * .95in


April 01, 2024


Baraka Books



Book Subjects:

FICTION / Literary

Featured In:

Congress 2024 Booklist



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