Iceland. Land of ice, volcanic rock and a people in love with their history and their poets. Freya’s family immigrated to Canada from Iceland long before she was born, but Iceland’s influence still permeated her early life. Freya’s Icelandic grandmother and aunt, as well as her Canadian town full of Icelandic natives and their descendants, are permanent fixtures in Freya’s childhood. When, as an adult, Freya overhears words that she believes reveal a family secret, Freya beings a search to make sense of Her People’s past.
I am having the hardest time writing this review; maybe it’s just hard to sum up a family saga set across two continents. I really did enjoy this one, with one caveat. I loved the language and the sense I got of Iceland and its people. I personally have only spent a mere 36 hours in Iceland, but for me, Sunley absolutely invoked the essence of that amazing place. She has woven history and folklore, genealogy and sociology, culture and geology into the story, with an incredible flow and pace. Freya is a sympathetic character forced to grow up early and make her way through some pretty tragic experiences, and I really liked her as a narrator: very familiar and detailed without often getting bogged down in those details.
My only complaint? I guessed the end about a quarter of the way through. And while that may not bother some people, I spent much of the book hoping that I was wrong and that there would be some wilder, less obvious, twist. To be honest, it didn’t actually spoil the book for me, but it did color it a bit. As an immigrant story, a family story and wild and ancient place story, it worked. And while I did know the end, it was an interesting road on the way there.
Rated: Moderate for language and one or two sexual moments/references