Icicles and Valentines : by Martin Andrews
3.5 / 5
I was the lucky winner of a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway of the book Icicles and Valentines by Martin Andrews. A story which blends together an array of events, personal beliefs and friendship together in a very competent novel that steadily builds up to a conclusion that entertains and satisfies the reader perfectly. When the 174 pages are finished, Rolf, Locker, Dougal, Harry and Lucy will have left many impressions on you, not the least, the satisfying impression of having read a good book.
Although Icicles is the third book in a series which contains the books Not Being Kids and Spare A Thought For Gary Shackleton, I was still able to read it as a stand-alone without any prior knowledge of the main characters or the situation each of them were in personally.
Set in the 1970s in a working-class neighbourhood, the characters are teenage boys on the cusp of becoming young adults. Andrews begins the story on New Year’s Day with main character Rolf hopefully optimistic for the year that lies ahead as he mentally plans what he wants to achieve. However, over a short period of time, personal resolutions become less significant as events dramatically spiral out of control, much to the discomfort of Rolf, who detests scenarios where he isn’t control. The two big events that Rolf is seemingly powerless to prevent is Seth Pike exacting revenge on him, Locker and Dougal for the part they played in his arrest and imprisonment for a robbery that Seth committed. And, the situation with Lucy and the fixed views of her father Mr Kopczeck which is also occupying Rolf’s mind, due to the threat of Lucy being forced away from him.
Dougal, Rolf’s friend and new housemate, informs Rolf that he thinks he might be gay which Rolf lets slip to Lucy, who is a regular churchgoer in her deeply devout family. However, Rolf does not expect Mr Kopczeck’s reaction to Dougal’s suspected homosexuality. The deeply religious and steadfast stance that Lucy’s father takes and acts upon is something increasingly unfamiliar in a modern world, but in the 1970s working-class environment, and as a man who has unrelenting religious beliefs shaped by personal experiences and his interpretation of The Bible, he reacts in a way totally alien to us in the 21st century. His actions turn him and Rolf into disagreeing neighbours who have opposite views on the issue and the manner that Kopczeck has acted in.
However, more pressing for Rolf, Locker and Dougal is the threat posed by the escaped convict Seth Pike who has warned through his brother Pikey that he is fixed on exacting revenge on all of them. As the story steadily progresses, the impending threat seems more and more viable to Rolf and Locker, due to Seth making himself known to the group in various ways, be it through violence or a simple card. The police seem to think less of the danger posed to them, and they offer limited protection and support following statements they have made to police, however, none of them could predict the events of the final 50 pages which made for thrilling reading.
In all honesty I can say that I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I were in a library or bookshop or browsing on Amazon, but due to a stroke of luck I won a Goodreads Giveaway and I am very pleased I did. This book is suited to a Young Adult/ Adult audience who enjoy reading a character-focused type of book with events keeping you on tenterhooks until the final chapters.
If any of my followers want to express any interest in reading the book then let me know, and if there is quite a bit of interest I’ll organise some kind of random giveaway.