Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cold Spell” as Want to Read:
Cold Spell
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cold Spell

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  26 reviews
With precise and evocative prose, Cold Spell tells the story of a mother who risks everything to start over and a daughter whose longings threaten to undo them both.
From the moment Ruth Sanders rips a glossy photo of a glacier from a magazine, she believes her fate is intertwined with the ice. Her unsettling fascination bewilders her daughter, sixteen-year-old Sylvie, sti
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 15th 2014 by University of Alaska Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cold Spell, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cold Spell

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  83 ratings  ·  26 reviews

Sort order
Stephanie Cole
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There is the Alaska that most people around the world might envision, and then there’s the Alaska that you know if you’ve lived there. There is no question that Deb Vanasse has lived there. COLD SPELL is spot on accurate in its depiction of a vast landscape filled with unbelievable beauty and huge challenges. In COLD SPELL, Ruth, not long divorced, a bit bewildered and trying her best to be a good mother, becomes obsessed with a glacier near Resurrection, Alaska after she finds a picture in a ma ...more
Wendy Mccarty
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
From start to finish, Cold Spell is as riveting as it is real. Descriptions, so vivid you can feel, taste, and smell the scenes, provide a back drop for the authentic, complex, and flawed people who live there. Going well beyond a trivial tale of Alaskan adventures, the author uses the rugged land and extreme conditions to shape the lives of her characters. Dreams and disappointments universal to all humans are magnified when juxtaposed against the rawness of the land. Wilderness experiences of ...more
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Such a great read! I was so swept up with the characters and story that I finished this book in a day, which is not typical of me. Vanasse's adept pacing and knack for tension hooked me from page one and still hasn't let go, and I finished the book last night! The two main characters's, mother and daughter, points of view criss cross throughout the novel in a masterful way. At times they contradict one another and at times they lend further insight . . . the whole thing adds a wonderful depth to ...more
Efehan Elbi
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Having just seen that only 83 other people read Cold Spell this YEAR, I suddenly feel the need to review. I came across Cold Spell on Kobo, and couldn't have been more pleased. A grounded and beautiful novel about a family's move to Alaska, very real characters, and (for me, anyway) a glimpse of a lifestyle that I'd never really considered in detail before. A coming-of-age story in one sense, but about many other things, and one of my favourite reads (and favourite random finds) of the year.

I ve
Roberta Campbell
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Cold Spell" makes for compulsive reading. It is a story of adventure, a glacier and life in a remote area of Alaska. A dream come true for Ruth, a divorced mom. Ruth and her two children, move from Minnesota with her boyfriend, Kenny, to his home in Alaska. Sylvie, her teenage daughter, has problems with leaving her friends and home. A great read!
Jamie Pancake
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story sheds light on how a parent's decisions will affect her children. Ruth is a mother, who develops an unhealthy obsession with a glacier in Alaska, and as a result, clings to her boyfriend Kenny, who takes Ruth and her children to Alaska to live alongside the glacier. Sylvie, a teenager with friends she has to leave back home, is not happy with the decision, but her younger sister, who is more willing to adapt to the new surroundings, feels the opposite. Ruth struggles with whether she ...more
Carol Waters
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
A satisfying read.

I live in Texas. My son and his family live in Alaska. A few trips ago, I went to the glacier, to several really, but also to one that sounds very much like the one described in this book. A country road, an odd gift store that carried dusty junk and find-it-anywhere postcards and art prints by a local creator. On my last trip to Palmer, two weeks ago, I bought this little book.

I've thought a lot about moving to Alaska because that is where these people I enjoy are living. The
My first impression of this book is that it is beautifully written — ornate in a fashion that each sentence carries weight and literary substance. Cold Spell reads like solemn poetry with a story slipped in.

Vanasse’s knowledge of Alaskan wildlife and of its landscape and glaciers is indeed impressive. At times, the story is stalled by intelligent and detailed depictions of the untamed land. The author runs off in tangents of descriptive prose, bordering close to overload. It did not move the st
Melinda Brasher
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an absorbing story, and the feelings of isolation—not just geographical—are palpable.

Being quite obsessed with Alaska at the moment, I find the portrait of this particular rural Alaskan community very interesting, though I actually enjoyed the first half of the book more. Perhaps this is because I identified so strongly with the mother and her magazine picture. Then, when she got to Alaska, her reaction surprised me and I found myself disconnecting a little. But this is all part of the c
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully crafted, the words and images of COLD SPELL spill over like glacial water. The book moves in delicious chunks, from the twisty relationship nuances of a divorced mom and her school-age girls, to the languid pace of a wholly different life in Alaska. Deb Vanasse describes the cold waters, ice and glaciers in this rugged land with such vivid detail that the place becomes its own character. She weaves color into the sameness of the locale through the quirks of its inhabitants. From the ...more
Samaris Creech
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
After the abrupt departure of her husband Ruth is just trying to make a life for herself and her girls. She finds herself fascinated with a picture of a glacier she finds in a magazine and even goes so far as to frame it. If one were to believe in fate then one could say that the day Kenny walked into Ruth’s life was fate’s intention. For Kenny’s home is where the glacier she has been obsessing over is. When Ruth makes the decision to move to Alaska with Kenny she does so with the best of intent ...more
T. Louise
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a resident of Alaska, I can testify to the authenticity of this story. Like many people who wind up in this state, Ruth, the adult protagonist moves north because of a fascination with the far north. You either love or hate Alaska, and Ruth's daughter, Sylvie, knows she is going to hate it and then proves herself right. The depiction of small, remote community is spot on, including the conflict between the two factions typically attracted to rural Alaska (the conservative religious and the mi ...more
Susan McBeth
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
In alternating voices, Deb Vanasse unfolds the story of Ruth Sanders, a divorced Midwestern mother, and her teen daughter Sylvie, reeling from her father's recent abandonment. Believing her fate is connected to a glacier pictured in a magazine she has framed on her desk, she unexpectedly uproots Sylvie and younger sister Anna to follow a man to Alaska in search of the glacier she believes will fulfill an unexplained longing in her. While Anna is young enough to go with the flow, Sylvie, on the o ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol N
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Is risking everything to start over worth it? This is one of the major themes of Vanasse's coming of age, wilderness tale - "Cold Spell.' Having found myself lately, enchanted with reading about our most northern state, Alaska, and the hardships of living off the grid, I found this novel, a slice of Alaska one rarely sees. It is a story of a young mother and her two daughters, born and raised in the Midwest and lured to the Far North by ragtag lover and a glacier that the mother believes will fu ...more
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a strange tale about a woman and her two daughters who are grieving the loss of life as they had known it. Ruth's husband leaves her for another woman and the daughters learn a new version of the father they loved. Ruth becomes obsessed with the picture in a magazine of a glacier. She learns all she can about glaciers. Eventually, Kenny comes into her life through happenstance and he just happens to have a home next to the glacier. Ruth packs up the girls and off they go with Kenny to Al ...more
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Brian
Cover Story: Below that Ol' White Mountain, Just a Little Southeast of Nome
Drinking Buddy: No Running Water
Testosterone/Estrogen Level: Epic Beard
Talky Talk: Here's the Story of a Lovely Lady, Who Was Bringing Up Two Very Lovely Girls
Bonus Factors: Alaska, Lolita Wanna Be
Bromance Status: That Dude I Knew That Summer I Worked in Valdez

Read the full book report here.
Haley Sumrall
Jul 25, 2014 rated it liked it
I received this book free for review thanks to Goodreads Firstreads Giveaways.
I loved the very vivid descriptions in this book of Alaska and it's natural beauty. There were a few plot twists along the way but not many. This is the story of obsession and how one person's decision can change a family. Ruth longs to move to Alaska after becoming obsessed with a glacier she saw in a magazine, but her teenage daughter does not want to leave her friends behind. This was definitely not my favorite boo
Jun 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Cold Spell is a cautionary tale about acting on an obsession. The pace is crisp but not breakneck, the descriptions unique in a place few have experienced, and there are a few surprises that kept me reading. Though it doesn't describe itself as such, it feels to me like a young adult novel. Plenty of teens would recognise themselves in some of the characters, as would young adults making their way in the world.
Rebecca Kaye
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'll echo what other reviewers state: the scenery is spot on. The secondary characters are also dead ringers for a lot of the people I've met living here.
I do thank my lucky stars we relocated to Alaska with a 13 year old. This book further solidifies our decision to move before he started high school!
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Finally, a novel set in Alaska describing it as it is. No romanticizing. Accurate depiction of bush community split between Christians and "free spirits." I did not care for either of the protagonists, but it's their wacky expectations that drive the plot.
monica seiger
Mar 15, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Promise of a good book

The premise of the book sounded interesting. I thought it held promise of an interesting read in the beginning of the book. As the story continued it went from entertaining to boring every day issues.
Jul 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
I tried to read this a year ago or so, but I found it rather boring and this time as well. I tried to skip over the religious part but I still found it not interesting to me, and I quit reading it.
Gloria Quackenbush

The writing was very uneven, and the point of the story and eluded me. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
May 12, 2016 added it
Don't recommend. Good enough to keep me interested, but kept expecting it to get better.
Beatrice P
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A mother decides to live the rugged country life in Alaska. Lovely descriptions of the Alaska landscape and emotional and sensual at times.
Kristie Veillon
rated it really liked it
Feb 21, 2016
rated it did not like it
Nov 15, 2015
Kath Kelcourse
rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2016
Joan Merrill
rated it liked it
Feb 13, 2016
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • North to Alaska: That Wintry Feeling / Borrowed Dreams
  • Flame
  • Liar Liar (Southern Seductions, #1)
  • Parnucklian for Chocolate
  • Sanibel Scribbles
  • Sweet Dreams at the Goodnight Motel (Valentine, #6)
  • Dangerous Nights: Night of the Blackbird / Fatal Affair
  • Into Darkness
  • Codename: Dancer (Dani Spevak Mysteries, #1)
  • Dreams Claimed (Warfield's Landing #1)
  • Caitlin's Choice
  • Just the Way You Are
  • Honey Kisses (Romance on the Ranch #2)
  • Grand Theft Horse
  • Mirror, Mirror
  • She Wore Mourning (Zachary Goldman Mysteries, #1)
  • Somewhere South of Here
  • Keep It Secret (KIS #1)
Eclectic author of 15 books published with six different presses: literary fiction, books on the craft and business of writing, narrative nonfiction, books for children and young adults. Alaska is home and inspiration.
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“she learned words that rolled from her tongue when no one was listening. Firns and striations. Cirques and moraines. Adulation. Sublimation. She fell asleep to their music, and she woke to it. Chatter marks, eskers, and drumlins. Truncated spurs. Corries and tarns. Kames. Eolian loess. Katabatic winds.” 0 likes
More quotes…