the Little Red Reviewer

Icefall, by Gillian Philip (Rebel Angels #4)

Posted on: March 23, 2015

icefall gillian philipIcefall, by Gillian Philip (Rebel Angels #4)

published March 24th

where I got: received ARC from the publisher (Thanks Tor!)












Icefall is the fourth and final book in Gillian Philip’s Rebel Angels series, which means this review has unavoidable spoilers for the first three books.


the non-spoilery part of this review is: I absolutely love the characters in these books. Seth, Finn, Rory, Jed, Hannah, everyone, even the bad guys. Philip portrays them with such effortless ease that you yearn to fall deeper into their histories and futures, and her writing style offers an addicting and compelling reading experience. When it comes to satisfaction, this series delivers.  And let’s not forget the feels. Heartbreak, betrayal, deception, emotional torment, starcrossed lovers and families torn apart, Philip could teach your favorite epic fantasy authors a thing or two about kicking readers in the feels. And the way she does it? You’ll willingly take the punch to the feels. In fact, she’ll have you  begging for it.


The Sithe know the veil is dying. The elusive boundary between their world and ours, what will happen when the veil ceases to exist? Queen Kate NicNiven has paid a terrible price to guarantee the veil ends on her terms, but she’s missing a few pieces yet needed to seal the deal. Seth MacGregor and his clann have been been living in exile on our side of the veil. Not the worlds best father by a long shot, Seth is raising and protecting his half-mortal son Rory as best he can. No one really knows what exactly will happen when the veil fails. Well, a few people have an idea of what might happen, but they’re not talking.

Kate’s been sucking Seth’s soul dry, and he’s willing to take the punishment if it keeps the veil alive another day. But Kate has a few other tricks up her sleeve, one that the reader will recognize immediately, and a few others that are subtly horrible. Kate plays the very, very long game, she’s been planning this for generations, and she expects every one of her pawns to make it across the board. When it comes to Kate, it’s all a matter of leverage. The people she needs on her side? What do they care about? That’s exactly what she’ll destroy to break that person. She’s been hunting Rory since before he was born, and she already know what and who he cares about. Baiting someone might be old fashioned and old hand, but it works every time.


And if Seth tops your list of favorite Philip characters (he’s certainly my favorite character!), he’s still a big part of Icefall, even though this is more an ensemble novel than the rest of the books in the series. Seth is fighting on too many fronts – family drama, clann drama, and teenagers in his charge who will do anything for privacy. God save Seth from teenagers!  You’ll laugh your head off at some of the scenes between Seth and the teens.  That might be before or after you also cry a little.


Something that has continually drawn me back to this series is how Philip explores the life cycle of the Sithe.  Long lived and nearly immortal, full-blooded Sithe children are rarely born. But nothing stops the Sithe from having relationships with mortals, so there are more than a handful of half-mortal people running around. In fact, most half-mortals don’t even know they’ve got Sithe blood in them. The important part of this paragraph is what happens during that relationship? As the full-mortal partner ages, their Sithe partner stays young. This might be fun for a few years, but think about it terms of decades.  Those thoughts aren’t lost on Philip’s characters, who show a rarely vulnerability when they choose to continue, or end certain relationships.  It’s hard for me to explain why this affected me so deeply, but it did. If my partner never aged (at least not to my eyes), would I want them to see me age? get wrinkled, go grey, lose my memory, lose control of my body, lose my motor control? Wouldn’t I want them to always see me as I am now? At least if the relationship is two mortals, you age at the same rate, you get wrinkles together, get arthritis together, get grey hairs together. Between  a mortal and a Sithe, aging is something you can’t ever do together, it’s a wall between you, forever.


Being the end, Icefall is a novel of revelations. All of the painful truths bubble to the surface, and sometimes the only way to react is in anger or fear.  If Seth and his clann are going to defeat Kate, they’ll need a weapon that’s as strong, or stronger than she is. Can you defeat what you hate without becoming it, just a little bit? What price is too high?  This really is the final showdown, and everyone is starting to act like hungry, cornered animals.


The end of Icefall was shocking and bittersweet, and perfectly appropriate. You know those series you never have to read again, because you know how it ends? Well, I know how Rebel Angels ends, and I’d love to read the whole thing again.  Any time and any pages I can spend Seth and Finn and Rory and Jed and Hannah, I’ll take it. Doesn’t matter if I’ve already read the pages, that just means we’ve become better friends.

4 Responses to "Icefall, by Gillian Philip (Rebel Angels #4)"

I’ve only read the first two books in this series, but I really enjoyed them and I’m looking forward to being able to catch up. I’m glad you enjoyed the series as a whole!


*sobs* why did it have to end!
Lynn 😀


because if it went on forever, we wouldn’t cherish it.


*Hands out tissues* You see now! *Sniffle* 😉

Liked by 1 person

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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