Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Blood and Ice"

Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, a reformed television writer, and a bestselling novelist, whose most recent novels were the supernatural thrillers Vigil and Bestiary.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Blood and Ice, and reported the following:
In respect to page 69, there were pretty much two possibilities -- we would find ourselves either in Victorian England, or the present-day Antarctic. Blood and Ice alternates between the two.

As it turns out, page 69 takes place in the past -- in a posh, London bordello, catering to aristocrats -- one of whom is Lt. Sinclair Copley of the 17th Lancers, the cavalrymen who will later lead the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea.

For most of the book, Blood and Ice goes back and forth between these two eras, these two worlds, until -- with the discovery of a pair of frozen bodies in an underwater glacier -- the stories finally intermesh at a research station close to the South Pole. It's a hard book to summarize -- the publisher took a big leap of faith, buying it on a few chapters and a very brief proposal -- because the storylines initially seem so strange and separate. But that's what intrigued me. I like trying to make the unlikely, even the impossible, seem possible, or real.

One page is seldom representative of a whole book, but in this scene, Lt. Copley does show his true colors. A wealthy wastrel, given to gambling and drinking and worse, he is so outraged at the despoliation of a young girl in the bordello, at the hands of a man he already detests, that he risks his own life to come to her rescue. (In 1850s England, there were no laws against prostitution, and the age of consent was twelve. Furthermore, a premium was placed on virginal girls, as having sex with them was thought to cure various "amatory infections.") Characters in my books, like Lt. Copley, are rarely all bad or all good, and it's here, on page 69, that we get a sense of the lieutenant's underlying decency. Although the book is generally described as a "supernatural thriller," or something like that (and yes, there is a vampire element to the tale), I think of Blood and Ice as a very unusual love story at heart.
Read an excerpt from Blood and Ice and view the video trailer.

Learn more about the book and author at the publisher's website and Robert Masello's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue