Ice Dance

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
291 Pages
Reviewed on 10/08/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Ice Dance is a work of fiction in the fantasy adventure subgenre. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Vik Azeem. A light and enjoyable read for fantasy fans looking for a sprightly adventure without too many gritty undertones, this charming tale follows protagonist Hassan, a Pakistani-American, on a journey of portal-hopping, discovery, and even romance. When Hassan finds himself smitten by the mysterious Yasmine, little does he know this interest will take him into a whole new world of magic, with chaotic beings from another realm and dangerous enemies he could never have imagined. What results is a ripping adventure about discovering what you’re really capable of.

It has been absolutely delightful to escape into the light-hearted world of author Vik Azeem for this fast-paced and concise fantasy tale that delivers everything it promises. One of the standout features for me personally was the author’s sense of humor, which lights up every page with quirky, nerdy dialogue and a keen sense of creating lively, lovable characters. Hassan and Yasmine are a well-matched leading pair for the tale, with Yasmine’s cool demeanor offsetting Hassan’s naivety and eagerness to discover things really well. Our hero truly comes into his own as the novel shifts into its exciting third act, where the danger really heats up, but the story never loses its light touch or sense of whimsy, which is truly a gift. Overall, I would certainly recommend Ice Dance for mature YA and adult readers alike: an unmissable and charming fantasy read indeed.

Pikasho Deka

Ice Dance is a fantasy adventure novel by Vik Azeem. After being laid off from his job in an accounting firm, Hassan has a hard time making rent. A full-on movie buff, Hassan lives a pretty much carefree life that spirals out of control when he meets Yasmine, an enigmatic woman with a secret of her own. Soon, he finds himself running for his life alongside Yasmine as a dangerous man named Vincent tracks their every move. It turns out Vincent is Yasmine's fiance who wants Yasmine's rightful throne of Hollow Maid in another realm. Battling green monsters and blue giants, Hassan and Yasmine try their best to stay off Vincent's radar. But when Vincent kidnaps Hassan's beloved niece Kassia, he must journey through a portal to Hollow Maid and face Vincent for a final confrontation.

If you enjoy portal fantasy stories or adventure novels, Ice Dance is a book you're going to love. This is the story of a happy-go-lucky young man whose life turns upside down when he finds himself in an extraordinary situation where he begins to question his whole world. Author Vik Azeem weaves a fast-moving plot set in a fantastical world full of monsters and magic. The worldbuilding is minimalistic as the prime focus is solely on the places and people directly related to the plot. Most of the scenes are dialogue-heavy, as the narrative relies a lot on the dynamic between Hassan and the other characters. Overall, an engaging read that breezes past without a single hitch.

Kim Anisi

Hassan, the protagonist of Ice Dance by Vic Azeem, has a few problems: He lost his job, is behind with his rent, and is faced with a landlord who wants to evict him without mercy even though it is Christmas time. When out in a bar, he meets a fascinating woman called Yasmine, but even though they seem to get on fine and she even gives him his number, he never hears back from her. She never responds to his text messages. Then, just on the day that he’s supposed to be watching over a child, everything turns upside down. There is a job interview, someone wants to kill him, and there are beings that shouldn’t exist in the real world. What did he get himself into? Or what did Yasmine get him into because everything seems to be connected to the beautiful stranger?

Ice Dance by Vic Azeem is a good story and it was an entertaining read. I just wished that we could have seen more of the other realm - but then, that might happen in a potential sequel. There was no mean cliffhanger at the end of the book, but there is potential for a lot more to unfold. I quite enjoyed the message that was hidden in the story and how Hassan eventually managed to make decisions based on what he truly wanted to do instead of just trying to please his family. I liked Monty, who deserves more attention if there’s another book to come. I’d recommend this novel to everyone who enjoys light fantasy stories with just a little dash of romance - nothing over the top, which is a nice change.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Ice Dance is a fantasy novel by Vik Azeem. Hassan is an unemployed accountant who wants to be a stand-up comedian, but he feels pressure from his family to have a high-paying job and get married. He’s mildly depressed and considers entering a stand-up comedy contest for the cash prize when he meets Yasmine. The two of them are instantly attracted to each other, but Hassan’s spirits fall when Yasmine doesn’t return his messages. A week later, on New Year's Eve, Hassan receives a call about a job, and he doesn’t want to pass up the opportunity for potential employment. His hopes are dashed when the interview proves to be a ruse, and the person interrogating him, Vincent, wants information about Yasmine. Hassan soon learns that Yasmine is from another realm where she is the princess, even though she never accepted the title. Vincent is after her and he has a plan for the people in Hassan’s realm, too.

I enjoyed the banter and the almost conversational tone of the story. Vik Azeem provided a touch of Pakistani culture and built the world of Hollow-Maid within his novel. Magical realism floats through the pages as Hassan and Yasmine face challenges in Washington DC and Hollow-Maid, and Hassan makes friends in unlikely places. The story moves along at a medium pace and is full of action and mythical creatures. I recommend Ice Dance to readers who enjoy fantasy stories with a touch of humor that are set in more than one world.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Ice Dance by Vik Azeem is an entertaining fantasy adventure novel. It is Christmas time, and Hassan, a Pakistani American, is between jobs. He is also in the process of being evicted from his rented apartment. While having dinner with his family, he feels uncomfortable about his situation. Later, to escape the isolation, he goes to the Coffee Buzz where he is encouraged by Anthony, his closest friend, to join an open mic challenge for stand-up comedians at Dorsia’s. With nothing better to do, he decides to go. At the bar, he meets Yasmine, a mysterious woman who seems to be hiding from something. What follows is a series of dangerous adventures that ultimately brings him to a magical world and a portal that can transport him to another realm.

Vik Azeem’s Ice Dance is a delightful read that will have the reader giggling at every page. The author’s sense of humor shines through in every scene with witty dialogues and hilarious twists and turns. This is a fast-paced fantasy adventure story with many interesting characters. The enigmatic Yasmine contrasts with the unsophisticated Hassan, and their chemistry is dynamic. Monty is a character every reader will like, and Vincent is a character you will love to hate. There is something childlike about the narrative, even in dangerous situations, and I find it highly amusing and exciting. Vik Azeem’s literary style is so unique and startlingly clever that it seems like a commentary on the state of fiction. This author is definitely one to watch!

Nino Lobiladze

Hassan sits in his newly acquired car at his parents' house, trying to delay the inevitable. It's Christmas Eve, and his family is having dinner. They are Pakistani Americans and do not celebrate Christmas. Nevertheless, they exchange gifts. Hassan's successful brother Amir is going to give their mom a computer, while Hassan's presents are not that impressive. He has lost his job and is afraid of losing his independent life in DC. Little does Hassan know that all his troubles and breathtaking adventures will begin after he meets the beautiful Yasmine. She wears an unusual-looking watch on her wrist, and something or someone haunts her - she is afraid of little green footsteps and leaves Hassan a mystery number instead of a real one. Ice Dance by Vik Azeem invites us to expand our limits and explore wonderful new realms.

Ice Dance is a fast-paced and engaging book. I liked the vivid scenes of Hassan with his family, lovingly described by Vik Azeem. Their family life is heartwarming and reveals that, despite his insecurity, Hassan stands on a solid foundation. I liked the skillfully crafted and subtle satire regarding the main antagonist. Azeem masterfully shows how distorted the modern perception of success can be. At the same time, the main characters are down to earth and far from being ideal, which is a breath of fresh air for fans of the fantasy genre. Azeem displays attention to detail in the narrative, making the world-building strong and logical. I appreciated that despite Azeem's light and humorous writing style, the book points out the hardships that other cultures face in the Western world and inspires them to fight for their dreams. The book is a real treat for all fantasy lovers, and I am looking forward to a sequel.

Ronél Steyn

Ice Dance by Vik Azeem is an introduction to the life of Hassan. It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Being Pakistani-American, his family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but Hassan feels there could be some changes to their traditions and culture. Not the most reliable and determined, he recently lost his job as an accountant. His rent is overdue, and he is about to be evicted. Hassan is torn between making his family proud and following his dreams. Then he meets Yasmine at a bar. Mysterious and beautiful, he can’t stop thinking about her. He should stay very far away from this attractive stranger. She could be the death of him. But when fantasy meets reality, there is a lot that can go wrong. Then again, with a little magic, everything could turn out fine.

Written in the first-person narrative, the reader is given the inner thoughts and feelings of the main character. Our protagonist is relatable and character growth is evident in all the players. I enjoyed the different references to classic movies. Through this, I was able to envision the situation and the setting as if I was there myself. Instead of focusing on stimulating the various senses of the reader, Vik Azeem used a different method, and it works wonderfully! There are quite a few comedic phrases and situations that make this book worth the read. I gladly recommend Ice Dance to any readers of fantasy. The end left me feeling wonderfully hopeful and transformed. As the potential first book in the series, I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Emma Megan

Ice Dance by Vik Azeem is an unforgettable fantasy about a man's quest to become successful in life. Hassan Arain is a Pakistani-American who comes from a family of over-achievers. Hassan feels inadequate because he is almost thirty, single, unhappy, and unemployed. He doesn't dare to do stand-up comedy as his closest friend advised him to do. However, he has a taste of both happiness and great danger when he meets Yasmine at the place where he was going to perform. Hassan can't forget about Yasmine even though she warned him that he was better off not knowing her. But one job interview on New Year’s Eve changes his life trajectory enormously. Hassan is about to be introduced to another realm, trolls, monsters, magic, and dangerous occurrences.

Reading Ice Dance by Vik Azeem was like being in a trance. This book enchanted me with its hilarious style, contemporary setting, and intriguing creatures. I liked how the action moved between the human world and the fantasy realm. I found Hassan Arain's way of joking about his misery to be relatable. There were many parts of this story that made me see myself in the main character's struggle. This comedic urban fantasy delivers magic, danger, excitement, and also a romantic subplot. The story touches on the lies we tell ourselves that hold us back from overcoming the feeling of incompetence that we feel so strongly, especially when with the people we love. This is a must for all fantasy and adventure fans.

Manik Chaturmutha

Ice Dance by Vik Azeem is a fantasy adventure. The narrative follows Pakistani-American hero Hassan on a quest filled with portal-hopping, exploration, and even romance. When Hassan meets Yasmine, a mysterious woman with a secret of her own, Hassan's relatively carefree existence starts to spin out of control. As a dangerous person named Vincent follows them everywhere, he eventually finds himself fighting for his life with Yasmine. Unfortunately, it turns out that Vincent desires Yasmine's rightful place on the Hollow Maid throne in another universe. Hassan has to make the journey to the realm of Hollow Maid via a portal to confront Vincent one last time.

The author's sense of humor comes through on every page with goofy, quirky dialogue and a good eye for developing colorful, endearing characters. Hassan and Yasmine make an excellent leading couple for the story because Yasmine's calm manner balances out Hassan's innocence and drive to learn everything there is to know. As the violence intensifies, the protagonist comes into his element. However, the narrative never loses its light-heartedness or sense of humor. In a fantasy universe filled with monsters and magic, Vik Azeem spins a quick-moving story. The worldbuilding is uncomplicated and easy to follow, as the primary focus is on the locations and characters immediately relevant to the plot. Azeem created the realm of Hollow Maid and added a hint of Pakistani culture. As Hassan and Yasmine deal with difficulties in Hollow Maid and Washington DC, magical realism permeates the pages. Readers who like humorous fantasy novels with multiple worlds or realms may enjoy reading Ice Dance.

Additional Reviews

“Ice Dance” is a rollicking text in the comedic fantasy genre. Here, Vik Azeem beguiles readers as he introduces Hassan, an American of Pakistani origin with a career background in accounting. He is unemployed and has been unsuccessful in getting a job to sustain himself. His struggles are aggravated when he is served an eviction notice due to his inability to pay his rent. Hassan also possesses artistic skills that he, at times, buries inside him due to his cultural upbringing.
One day, he meets Yasmine, a strange young woman and a bar hopper whose keen interest in Psychology captivates him. Yasmine however, is keeping a calamitous secret that is bound to endanger both their lives. As the New Year approaches, Hassan is plunged into a world little known to him, and one that surpasses his dreamy expectations. Things turn awry and his life is suddenly in constant danger as he encounters dangerous villains, goblins, and magic portals, and his mission now is saving his own life.
From the onset, Azeem’s adept creativity is apparent, and the plotline and dialogue are stellar. Often humorous, occasionally frightful, and sometimes poignant, “Ice Dance” is starkly beautiful. The text’s prose floats gracefully from solemn to expressive and back again, awakening a denuded world that is by turns bleak and utterly alluring. The story’s unrelenting sensibility is complete with mythical assassins, metaphysical elements, and some delightfully gruesome magic that conclusively makes this book a page-turner.
Further, the character creation and development are superb and help in differentiating their roles, quirks, and temperaments. Azeem manages to create a few soliloquizing cameos using the key protagonist, elevating the book’s stand on several contemporary issues. Also, the book’s chiseled detail is lyrical and visceral and its book cover serves as enticement of what readers should expect along the chapters.
“Ice Dance” by Vik Azeem is undoubtedly a five-star novel. Perhaps the feather on the cap of this story is the author’s ability to take the well-worn tropes of fantasy and weave them into a new, fresh and vibrant tapestry that will appeal to a contemporary audience. His infusion of the right amounts of gaiety and wit further manages to give this text an elevated poise. Indeed, Azeem’s work is a welcome piece for fantasy fans."
- Reader Views

"Ice Dance is a novel which will keep its audience's attention and leave them craving more from author Vik Azeem, but will also make them want to share it with friends and family. It is a novel that is difficult to put down and readers will find themselves potentially finishing it in one sitting. It's that good. The banter between the characters can be humorous at times and makes for characters which readers are eager to know more about, eager to follow along. He gives you characters that feel genuine and sincere; ones you will remember long after reading the novel. It is an entertaining novel that moves along gracefully rather than feeling as if it reads choppy or disjointed. It has a smooth easy flow that enables readers to escape their own reality and become engrossed in the world he has created. The author has the master ability to paint such a vivid scene that readers will feel as if they are standing on the sidelines watching as the events play themselves out. Ice Dance and is a book that needs to be on everyone's shelf. It is a great novel; fans will be anticipating the next novel from this rising author."

-Jennifer Bailey, Pacific Book Review

Wendy Wary

The beginning is a little slow and dialogue seems a bit disjointed, but as the story unfolds, this book becomes hard to put down. It becomes this fantastical adventure with an original storyline that has the reader invested in not only Hassan's success in his current predicament, but also in finding his path moving forward. An interesting twist in managing cultural expectations and an exploration in one's own part in finding or running away from destiny.