White Knight: Anna Kavan’s Ice

Anna Kavan’s Ice is off like a shot from the first sentence, “I was lost, it was already dusk, I had been driving for hours and was practically out of petrol.” This haunting novel was one of Anna Cavan’s last works, after an early career writing in a more realistic vein, and a mid-career exploration of insanity and power through experimental fiction. Ice was described as “The Avengers meets Kafka” and I think that sums it up quite nicely—it’s a terrifying work of speculative fiction that could be post-apocalyptic from one angle, and allegorical from another.

We are in an unnamed country, traveling down and icy road in the dark. We soon learn that our narrator (he will never have a name) is searching for a girl he once “loved” (she also remains unnamed) who is now married to an overbearing, possibly abusive man. The girl is ...