Book Review: My Soul To Take by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir
June 5, 2013 12 Comments
I took this book with me on my Icelandic holiday, except the holiday didn’t happen. So, having unpacked my suitcase again, I wasn’t sure whether I still wanted to read it. Would it be sad to read about a country where I was going to go and then didn’t? Even worse, the exact region where the story takes place, Snæfellsnes, was one that we were planning to visit on a day out with a 4-by-4.
As it happened, I was glad I did read the book, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My Soul To Take: What it is about
What the publishers say: “In the mystical Snæfellsnes region on Iceland’s west coast—at a New Age health resort in a renovated farmhouse—the body of a young woman is discovered, savagely beaten, with pins inserted into her feet. Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, lawyer and single mother of two, has been retained to represent the resort’s owner and prime suspect. But a fresh corpse is not the only abomination Thóra encounters here—for local legend says this place is haunted . . . and a bizarre series of inexplicable occurrences soon suggests it is so.
As Thóra digs deeply into the farm’s past, she unearths a shocking history of evil and depravity—and her once-solid view of reality begins to waver. But a second murder, shockingly similar to the first, pulls Thóra back to earth by making two inescapable truths abundantly clear: the killer she seeks is very real . . . and is not finished yet.“
My Soul To Take: What I thought
I loved this book! This was such a good mystery. There is an strong element of the mystical, with ghosts and superstition present in much of the investigation. I loved that, because I know many Icelandic people believe in otherworldly beings – and not only the old people.
Thóra doesn’t believe in ghosts (in particular, the sound of a baby crying at night is heard, in places where there are no babies anywhere in the surroundings), but people around her insist that they are there.
I thought this book gave an interesting insight in Icelandic people and culture and the absolute remoteness of some of the places there.
Thóra is being aided by a German friend, Matthew, in her investigation into the murder. I’m not really sure what he was doing there, but he added a foreigner’s view to the whole setting, which in a way allowed for observations that a native Icelander would not be able to give.
I loved the whole story. It was set up perfectly, with one murder, followed by an introduction to a number of characters, another murder, more characters, and more information about the characters of interest. Slowly, Thóra and the reader get some idea of who could be responsible for the crimes. Unfortunately, Thóra missed a piece of information that the reader got from the police. Because of that, I kept in the back of my mind another (partial) solution. It was a little annoying to see Thóra try to solve a crime without all the information. Maybe it would have been better if the reader didn’t know about this particular issue either.
Other than that, I had good fun reading this book and consider it one of the better mysteries that I’ve read in the last few years.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Number of pages: 416 (my Dutch copy: Neem mijn ziel)
First published: 2006 (this Dutch edition: 2011)
I got this: from the library