February 1907, Block Island. Residents of this tiny Rhode Island community awaken to a scene of tragedy: During a midnight blizzard, a New York–bound steamer carrying 157 passengers has been destroyed at sea. Volunteers rush to the beach to organize a search-and-rescue effort—but for most of the passengers, hope is already lost.
A century later, residents of the island are busy preparing for the summer season and debating the merits of a proposed wind farm near the beach. No one expects that those long-forgotten passengers may have something to say about the project, but the restless spirits are furious that their final resting place may be disturbed—and turn to Anza to help them protect it. If spirit-world preservationists aren’t enough, Anza also has to face the uncomfortable possibility that her five-year-old son, Henry, has inherited her gift. And then there’s that handsome fisherman whose charms are proving difficult to ignore.
What began as a simple island sojourn turns into a week of chills, thrills, and ghostly intrigue in this gripping second novel in the Ghost Files series.
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About the Author
Maureen Foley is the acclaimed writer, producer, and director of the film American Wake and the award-winning Home Before Dark. She is also the coauthor of The Book of Illumination and The Ice Cradle.
Read an Excerpt
It wasn’t as warm as I’d hoped. In fact, we were freezing. Back in January, when the director of the Block Island Historical Society had been in touch with me, offering me a week’s work in April, on an island I knew to be, well, somewhere vaguely south of us, drifts of snow three feet high had bordered the sidewalks and buried the gardens and yards of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I live with my five-year-old son, Henry. Seven more inches had accumulated during the night, temporarily beautifying the filthy piles of ice, sand, and salt that lined the streets.
As I’d gazed out the window of our second-floor apartment and down at the fluffy white mounds I would soon be shoveling, I didn’t go so far as to dream of tropical drinks with little umbrellas or sunblock scented like Polynesian fruit. But I sure didn’t imagine that come the last week in April, identified on Henry’s school calendar as “spring vacation,” my son and I would be riding the Block Island ferry wearing mittens and scarves and three or four layers under our puffy down jackets.
School had been canceled that day in January, leaving me with a familiar dilemma: I could be a great mom or a not-so-great mom. A great mom would seize the moment and take her child sledding at Fresh Pond, then cheerfully agree to host whomever he wanted to ask back to the house for cocoa and popcorn and grilled cheeses, and a serenely supervised afternoon filled with board games and fort building and tent-tunnel making, using sheets and blankets and all the tables and chairs.
The trouble was, I had work to do, and as a freelance bookbinder working from home, I couldn’t call in sick or take a
personal day. Sure, I could just not work, but our financial cushion, never plump in the flushest of times, had recently been getting flatter and flatter.
I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t feel like I was bleeding money, but I hadn’t actually had time to sit down and go through all
the bills and receipts. And what was the point of that, anyway? It wouldn’t change the simple reality: I was obviously earning too little and spending too much.
Many single mothers wouldn’t be happy with the agreement I have with Henry’s father, but it suits me just fine. Declan is a Boston cop—a detective, to be precise—and by any measure, a first-class dad. He also happens to be married to someone else: Kelly, from whom he was separated when he and I had our little . . . thing. They ended up getting back together. I ended up having Henry. Then Dec and Kelly had two girls of their own, Delia and Nell, whom I adore, and with whom Henry now spends lots of time on weekends and vacations. It’s not the simplest of family arrangements, but it’s ours, and it works.
Dec and I had the talk about money before I even took Henry home from the hospital, when we were both overwhelmed and completely in shock. At that moment, he would probably have said yes to anything. But I have my pride. I’m healthy, hardheaded, and college educated. No way did I want to get a check every week. If he could just relieve me of the responsibility for our son’s health insurance and his college education, I told him, I was sure I could handle everything else.
And I have.
But the call from Block Island felt like manna from heaven. The man from the Historical Society, who identified himself
as Caleb Wilder, had gotten my name from a bookbinder with whom I’d worked the previous fall, Sylvia Cremaldi. The Society had received a modest grant.
“What kind of grant?” I’d asked.
“To create a new collection, based on a set of historical papers.”
“What kind of papers?”
“They have to do with something that happened here about a hundred years ago, a collision at sea.”
“Between a steamship and a schooner,” he continued. “The Larchmont, the steamer, was making an overnight trip from Providence to New York City in February 1907. There’s disagreement about how many people were aboard—the passenger manifest went down with the ship—but the number was somewhere around a hundred and fifty. She was hit by a schooner, the Harry Knowlton, and sank in fifteen minutes.”
“Wow! What happened to all the people?”
“A lot of them went down with the ship. They were asleep in their berths when the crash happened. The ones who made it up to the deck weren’t much better off: the boat was sinking, they were in the middle of a blizzard, and the seas were vicious. Most of the folks who got into the lifeboats were in their nightclothes, so even if their boats didn’t capsize, they froze to death.”
“That’s terrible. Did anyone survive?”
“Nineteen people. Though many were never the same.”
“And how does this—what does this have to do with Block Island?”
“The Larchmont sank just a few miles from here. A couple of the lifeboats reached us by morning, and the island became the center of the search-and-rescue mission. But there weren’t many people to rescue. A few of the bodies washed up on shore the next day, and fishing boats picked up twenty or so more, but the tide carried most of the victims out to sea. All in all, it was a fairly big event for a fairly small island.”
Caleb went on to describe the nature and scale of the project and the salary they were able to offer me, a sum that struck me as more than fair. But he, or someone else, must have thought the pot needed sweetening, given that they were under a very tight deadline to get the work completed. For reasons he didn’t explain, the money would not be available until April first, the volumes needed to be bound, and a new website, which someone else was going to design and launch, needed to be up and running by sometime this summer. So I was going to be housed free of charge at a Victorian inn that was under new ownership, a place right on the water called the Grand View Hotel.
Meals were included. And all expenses.
“It sounds fabulous,” I said. “I’d love to do it.”
“Terrific!” cried Caleb. “Wonderful! Now if I could just get some—”
“But you see,” I added, interrupting. “It’s a little hard for me to travel. I have a son who’s five. It’s just the two of us.”
“Could you bring him?” asked Caleb.
“Well, I could, but I wouldn’t get much work done.”
Caleb laughed. “I know the feeling. My daughters are eight and six. Does he have a spring vacation?”
“I think so,” I said, “but I’m not sure which week.”
“If he’s on vacation the same week our kids are, the Block Island School runs a full- day drama camp—from nine to
“Nope. They do a musical every year. I hear this year it’s Grease.”
“He’d love it!”
So that’s how, on a Saturday in April, Henry and I happened to be making a bone-chilling journey across Block Island Sound. We’d been warmer that day back in January, when, entirely pleased with myself for coming up with eight thousand dollars’ worth of work (well, all right, saying yes to eight thousand dollars’ worth of work), I blew off the day and took Henry sledding. We brought a pack of people home with us, kids and parents, ten or eleven in all. We got pizzas and movies and beer for the grownups, and it was great, even if it did take me three days to get the apartment back to normal.
So in the end, at least that day, I got to be a pretty fair mom. So much of it depends on luck.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fans of the hit TV series Ghost Whisperer will love The Ice Cradle. Mary Ann Winkowski is a consultant for the show and also the co-author of this incredible story. Ice Cradle has it all and without doubt covers several genres including: historical, paranormal, romance, political, environmental and mystery. It is also a clean read that is suitable for a broad range of ages. This is more than a paranormal investigation story. Thematically, it appeals to a reader on several levels. The historical elements provide a background to the haunting, but also raise the debate about disrupting burial sites for the sake of progress ¿ or in this case, developing wind energy. Should the past trump the future? How should the living honor the dead? Anza O¿Malley¿s gift reminds us that what is important varies person to person, and although we have good intentions, sometimes a compromise is the best we can hope to accomplish. There are no good and bad guys, but a string of events, interests and perceptions all interacting and colliding on many planes, at the same time. Ice Cradle is a complex story that reads easy and is entirely entertaining while at the same time being thought provoking. This is a difficult task to achieve, but Winkowski and Foley have done it!
You will notice I rated this book with four stars. I save my five starsfor books that are life changing, stunning works that have touched and enrichedmy life. I can't say that about this book. What I can say is, this is a lot of fun to read. it has a little bit of everything.. Mystery, romance, thrills.. and lots of ghosts. A seriously large population of ghostsof all ages. I enjoyed every page. There was no dragging through the middle of dull descriptions.. it was all fast pacedand fun. Anza O'Malley and her son head to Block Island one spring day. She is a freelancebook binder, and a single mom. She has been retained to put together information on a tragedy that occurred in 1907, a shipwreck that killed many people. A great number of whom remained in the area. She and her son Henry will spend a week staying in a restored B&B that has been in the ownersfamily for many years. Timing is everything, don't you know! Henry was able to attend a week long drama camp that was provided during the schools spring break, thus enabling him to besupervised and to make friends. Anza made friends too, corporeal and non. Most of the book takes place during a faced paced week during a normally quiet time on the Island. You won't want to miss a page of it. This is a book that you want to read straight through to the end, to see how things are wrapped up. And, let me tell you, they are wrapped up beautifully. Read this on, you won't be sorry !
Name: Silverfrost <p> Age: 19 moons <p> Rank: Warrior/Med Cat/ Nursery Guard <p> Look: Silver fur with black tips, a slender body, a pink nose and blueish silver eyes <p> Personality: Funny, Athletic, Smart, Cute, Playful, Kind, Sweet, Caring, Emotional, Fierce, Cheerful, Strong, Imaganitive, Creative and Silly.
Icestar: A slender calico she-cat with a thick white pelt and red and black spots. She has piercing yellow eyes. Mate: None. Kits: None. Personality: Kind and tactful.
This is the second novel in its series but the only one I finished. The first book I gave 100+ pages of my life to...started to dread the wretched thing...then just decided to give this one a go. Wise choice, it turns out, as The Ice Cradle was a MUCH better read. Nice pacing and loooove all the characters - even the ghosts are very well developed! All-in-all, a light, short novel that made me look forward to cuddling with my Nook!
Introduction A cold night a ship crashed on an island. And now a couple of years later someone is given a job to research and find out why that ship wrecked. Some people say it's because of miscalculation, but others say it was on purpose. Description and summary of main points A ship wrecked upon Sleepy Block Island some years back. Everyone died that night that was on the ship. Now all of the spirits are making sure their voices are heard! Therefore, Anza O'Malley is the lucky girl that gets to research about this tragedy event. Evaluation This stories setting is like no other. "You'll be amazed at the difference. It's like another place," Anza said. I think this book was super great. Therefore, in my opinion this book did achieve its goal. It had to have been one of the best books I have ever read. Conclusion If you have to pick one book, pick this one! Also if you like, ghost stories this is your kind of story then. I think a lot more people should read this book. Your final review The Ice Cradle is one of the best books. Especially if you are into ghost stories and stuff like that. Well, even if you are not, I know you will still like it. I would definitely y give this book a chance! You will love you, I'm sure of it!
This was a very quick read. Story flowed well. I just had to keep flipping throught the pages to find out what was going to happen next. If you are into the the "ghosty" thing, and even if you're not, you'll love it. Very good book!
I thought this book was even better than the first one. More intrigue and more mystery while using the same lead characters, so we can relate to and build relationships with them. I love the way history is brought into the picture as well as the research done on the characters/ghosts involved. Some ghosts do not want to go into the light for their own reasons and that was handled well. Some had mental problems due to their tragic passing and that also was handled beautifully and with care. It was well blended with locality description, scenic trips around the area, the folks who live there and the folks who died there. Bringing in a romantic figure for our leading lady was a nice touch. It gives us (and her) something to look forward to and will most likely weave a new story into the next book (hint, hint). In fact, we need to boost Anza O'Malley's "spirit" with more companionable relationships that will benefit her as well as her son. Oh yeah, there's got to be a next book. Maryann and Maureen wouldn't dare leave us hanging with so many more of the ghost chronicles sitting in their files waiting to be shared. Very enjoyable book from cover to cover. L.M. Spaeth 1/13/11