The Ice Cradle is not the book I was expecting. It's my own fault, too. If I had read all three paragraphs on the Amazon Vine newsletter I would have seen the phrase "bookbinder and ghost whisperer extraordinaire"which would have activated my bullshit detector. Instead, I read the first paragraph about Block Island and a New York-bound steamer and I clicked away with shameless abandon, fully expecting a Daniel Hecht/Cree Black style ghost story to arrive in my mailbox.
What I got was Touched By the Ghost Whisperer Medium. It's the old story: single mom struggles to make a living by binding books at home while raising adorable tot and helping the dead sort of their issues.
On the plus side, I had many experiences in common with the heroine. Anza (the Ghost Whispering, Bookbinding Medium) lives in Cambridge - I lived there, too, once upon a time! Anza goes on a visit to Block Island, RI and I've been there, too! Anza gets to go there basically for free, all expenses pay and I had to pay! Anza runs into ghosts everywhere and I nearly got run into by someone on a bike while I was there. It's like we've lived parallel lives.
I could get all snarky about this book but the fact is that this was not written with a reader like me in mind. It's not a ghost story and more than it's a call to action about the horrors of wind farming (don't ask.) It's a paranormal romance, basically, and deserves to be evaluated as such.
The writing is workman like and general unoffensive. I'm not sure why it took two people to write this but maybe one of them was in charge of getting coffee or keeping the printer filled with toner. The characters are standard-issue, light-duty cardboard. Anza is a devoted mom who agonizes over being a good mom (for minutes at a time) and tries to balance motherhood, the hectic world of bookbinding and all those ghosts who will go on just as soon as they twig that one can actually see them. It's a full life. Henry, her son, is an adorable tot who (cue foreboding music) has inherited mom's gift. No, he's not a whiz with glue and spine stitching; he can also see dead people. There's a local who provides the romantic interest. And, of course, a literal boatload of ghosts.
There's nothing surprising or unique here. Bad people want to do bad things. The environment must be protected. Ghosts need to move on. Which is what I suggest that you do. Move on to another title. Unless you're a fan of The Ghost Whisperer in which case this book might just be for you.