By Cynthia Bujnicki
Something is wrong with Marianne. It goes beyond her parents’ divorce and her mother’s unstable nature. Glass is breaking around; she is losing time and doing things she would never do. Something dark and powerful is chasing her in the dark and threatening to take over. Marianne must find a way to face this force or risk losing herself in the dark of the other side.
What a haunting and wonderfully executed concept, The Dark Beneath the Ice explored self-doubt and hated manifesting into a poltergeist sort of possession. It makes for an eerie read but also an emotional one. Marianne lacks something; she lacks love as her family tore her apart emotionally. She questions her hobbies, trying to decipher her interest as her own instead of as wish-fulfillment created by her mother. It is a tough scenario she lives in, but to make it even more complicated for Marianne, she also questions her sexuality.
Through the paranormal lens, the reader can see the toxicity of trying to be someone else, of trying to live in a world that pushes one to be “normal,” that pushes one to deny their true self. Marianne is unhappy, verging on depressed as she seeks to live her life and find her true self, and the possession, the haunting going on around her, it allows her to open up and see herself. The possession breaks her out of the glass box society has put her in.
The Dark Beneath the Ice a compelling and emotional read not only because of the underlying complexity and depth of the story but also because Bérubé is excellent at keeping the tone and atmosphere tense. The mystery that goes into exploring what is wrong with Marianne allows the sinister atmosphere to grow, giving breathe to the reality that denying one true self is damaging. The possession and “physical” manifestation come through life in the eeriness, keeping the reader on edge as the story evolves.
The synopsis gives the impression that the story is going to be a possession story, but the evolution of that idea and the way Bérubé ties it to reality gives it a powerful substance. Bérubé elevates her own story into a complex character examination while also reflecting on the toxic normality that society continues to try to impose on individuals. By trying to conform, Marianne is dying inside, but the moment she breaks out of that box, she is much happier, and that message alone makes this an excellent read. (★★★★☆)