Friday 28 December 2018

Book Review: A LADDER TO THE SKY by John Boyne

Author: John Boyne
Read: December 2018
Expected publication: out now

Book Description:

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn't have is talent - but he's not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don't need to be his own.

Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful - but desperately lonely - older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice's first novel. 

Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall...

My musings:

I went into this book totally blind, and must say that it was one of the most unusual books I have read all year. Normally, I am not great with unlikeable characters, but there are some authors who have managed to pull this off for me, and those books usually stay in my memory far longer than others. Maurice Swift has now joined force with the little troupe of psychopaths I have encountered through books, but which still somehow managed to capture my attention, even if it was through the open-mouthed WTH expression of morbid fascination whilst reading.

We first meet Maurice through the eyes of Erich Ackermann, a famous novelist in his sixties, who is easy prey to Maurice’s good looks and charm. Recognising Ackermann’s desperate loneliness, it does not take Maurice long to worm his way into his life, using the older man’s affection to not only obtain a small stipend but also to make contacts in the publishing world that will benefit Maurice in his ambition to become a famous writer himself.  Through moments of shared confidence, Maurice encourages Erich to confide a secret from his youth that he has hidden from the world all these years – and uses it to destroy him.

As Maurice continues his rampage, leaving many victims behind on his “climb up the ladder” to success, I was equally horrified as I was fascinated by his utter lack of remorse and moral compass when it came to achieving his goals. Boyne tells his story through the eyes of several characters whose lives cross paths with Maurice, often to their detriment, and even though this may have served to fragment the story somewhat, I loved the different viewpoints, which managed to give a good insight into the life of a psychopath and the path of destruction he leaves in his wake. The foreshadowing Boyne uses to hint at his characters’ fates worked well here and kept up a sense of danger and suspense that kept me reading avidly, eager to find out more. Most of all I was longing to see Maurice get his just-deserts! Not since meeting Lily in The Kind Worth Killing (Peter Swanson) have I been so fascinated by a psychopathic character!

Boyne is an extremely talented writer, easily transporting us into the minds of several very different characters, and effortlessly bringing them to life in my mind. His characterisations are truly masterful, each character’s voice is unique, and his observations of the human mind are fascinating as much as they are frightening at times. It was impossible not to get emotionally involved in this story, which always makes for the best reading experiences.

With Maurice, the author also touches on a few ethical concepts that made me think. Such as ownership of stories – do we really “own” a story, an idea? Maurice argues that every writer steals stories, in the act of overhearing a conversation that may inspire a story, observing people in a coffee shop etc. And then of course there is Ackemann’s secret, which Maurice uses for his own gain and Erich’s downfall. Maurice states that Erich deserved what he got. But were Maurice’s actions not more despicable? Reading this book as part of a buddy read was the perfect way to explore these issues from various POVs, and I therefore recommend it as a great bookclub read that would make for an excellent discussion!


All in all, A Ladder to the Sky was an extremely well written, thought provoking book that has stayed in my mind long after I turned the last page. I am now very eager to read Boyne’s other works!

Thank you to the #travelingfriendsreads for inviting me to read this book with you - I really enjoyed the discussion that ensued!

If you enjoy an unlikeable character with questionable morals, you may also like:

Take Me In Take Me In by Sabine Durrant

The Good Samaritan The Good Samaritan, by John Marrs

The Kind Worth Killing The Kind Worth Killing, by Peter Swanson

Saturday 22 December 2018

Book Review: THE DROWNING by J.P. Smith

Title: The Drowning
Author: J.P. Smith
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Read: December 2018
Expected publication: 1 January 2019

Book Description:

Every seven years, a boy disappears from Camp Waukeelo.
Who will be next?

It doesn’t take long for a little boy to disappear. Joey Proctor can’t swim, but that doesn’t stop camp counselor Alex Mason from leaving him out on a raft in the middle of the lake in a fit of rage. Alex only meant to scare the kid, teach him a lesson. He didn’t mean to forget about him. But now Joey is gone… and his body is never found.

More than twenty years later, Alex is a success. The proof is there for anyone to see, in the millions of dollars he makes, his lavish house, his beautiful wife and daughters. And no one knows what happened that summer at camp. At least, no one should know. But it looks like Joey Proctor may be back to take his revenge…

My musings:

I just love it when a thriller totally takes me by surprise, and The Drowning drew me in straight away with its dual timeline that introduced what was to be a multi-layered, irresistible mystery. 21 years ago, eight-year-old Joey Proctor disappeared without a trace from summer camp. Some of the other boys are convinced he has fallen victim to urban legend John Otis, the evil man who is rumoured to have been behind the disappearance of several boys in these very woods. The police, on the other hand, believe that Joey may have wandered off into the forest, perhaps distressed about his parents’ marital problems. Only one person knows the truth – cocky swimming instructor Alex Mason, who left the boy behind on a swimming raft in the middle of the lake that afternoon to teach him a lesson and promptly forgot about him. But Alex is not about to tell the truth and destroy his own future for the sake of a simple “mistake”. So life goes on without Joey, even though for some it will never be the same again. The other boys grow up, Alex grows older and richer, and soon the news story is replaced by other headlines. Twenty years on, Alex has all but forgotten about that long ago summer as he is basking in his success as a property developer, living in a mansion with his pretty wife and two young daughters. Life has treated him well. Until the day things start to go wrong for him – and he receives a sinister message from Joey. But Joey is dead – or isn’t he?

J.P. Smith has taken a risk by starring a very unlikeable character as the main protagonist in his novel, but he managed to totally pull this off for me. Whilst I disliked Alex intensely – not only for what he has done, but for his arrogance and lack of remorse – he always maintained a small degree of humanity that made a tiny part of my heart sympathetic to his plight. Ok, perhaps not overly sympathetic, but curious in how this would play out. Those interested in seeing karma come back to haunt the guilty will get some satisfaction out of the events that follow. And of course there is the mystery of the cold case, the missing boy, that totally hooked me.

Smith writes well, and both timelines played out seamlessly in my mind’s eye. I loved the constant thread of danger and suspense that overshadowed the events in both past and present, and the inclusion of the urban legend was a great touch. There is nothing quite like a John Otis to awaken our primal fears of the monster coming in the night to take us away. Do we ever really grow out of that? Everyone who has ever been on a school camp will be able to recall the goosebumps as someone told a ghost story in the night. Then there was the butterfly effect Joey’s death had on the lives he touched, ultimately spinning out of control as the timelines collide. And if that was not enough, there is that extra contemporary touch of including a filmmaker interested in Joey’s story for a true-crime documentary, and a tireless detective investigating the cold case. It now had all the elements I love in a thriller – thank you very much!

The Drowning was one of those books that immediately drew me in and made me read late into the night to find out the answers. It’s not easy these days to find a thriller that stands out from the rest, but this one is so cleverly plotted that it definitely fell into that category for me. A well constructed, compelling read! 

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

You may also enjoy:

I Know You Know I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Book Review: RED SNOW (Tuva Moodyson #2) by Will Dean

Title: Red Snow
Author: Will Dean
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Read: December 2018
Expected publication: 10 January 2019
 all the stars!

Book Description:


One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?


Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man's eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.


Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?

My musings:

Dark Pines was one of my favourite books of 2017, so I did a very merry happy dance when I received an ARC of Will Dean’s latest book, Red Snow, which was a must-read for me before I even knew of its existence. I absolutely adored Tuva Moodyson, the journalist who starred in Dark Pines and makes her comeback here, getting drawn into yet another dark and sinister crime story in the small town of Gavrik in Sweden’s north.

After the death of her mother and the events that unfolded in Dark Pines, Tuva has come to the decision that small town living is not for her, and secured a new job in Malmoe, in the South of Sweden. Her decision is being reinforced by the inclement weather, the bone-chilling cold that keeps people indoors, the masses of snow that make roads impassable, and the permanent gloom of February that has people seeking out the comfort of their heated homes and UV lamps to beat their dose of seasonal affective disorder. Inside the Grimberg liquorice factory, Gavrik’s biggest employer, business goes on as usual, until one of its owners plunges to his death from one of the factory’s chimneys in front of dozens of workers. Was it suicide or has someone driven him to commit this terrible act? This was going to be Tuva’s last story, until more bodies start piling up and it seems that someone has a serious grudge against the Grimberg’s.

Like in Dark Pines, Will Dean has done a fantastic job is creating a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere brimming with weird and wonderful characters that made this an unputdownable read for me. I loved the fact that a lot of the characters from Dark Pines make a comeback here: there are the woodcarving sisters, the cooking ghostwriter and the creepy taxi driver, but there also is the wonderful Tammy and Tuva’s colleagues, who have supported her during her time in Gavrik. However, nothing compares to the strange family dynamics of the Grimberg family! These people were so weird and so intriguing that I had no idea where this would all lead. I am not exaggerating when I say that these are some of the best characters I have encountered in a mystery in a long, long time. The skill here is that Dean offers just the right amount of information at exactly the right time to keep the mystery tense and suspenseful, but never over the top or requiring the suspension of disbelief. With the amount of psychological thriller I read, I know that this is a fine art that not everyone can achieve, and I savoured it like the rare and wonderful treat it was.

Armchair travellers will be happy to hear that this is a trip to a wintry northern Sweden they are not likely to forget in a hurry. Some of the scenes had me shivering right next to Tuva, trapped in a blizzard in her old car. And the old factory was deliciously creepy, a very unique setting for a suspenseful read that worked a treat for me. And Dean knows just how to add small details to step up the tension – like the addition of the snow skulls suddenly appearing everywhere (who ever knew that such things existed!).


I could go on and on about how much I loved this book, but will sum it all up in just four words: I LOVED this book. I really, really hope that this will not be the last we see of Tuva, but that she will make a comeback in a future novel (please, pretty please!). If you love atmospheric Scandinavian mysteries with unforgettable characters that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned, then this one is a must-read!

Thank you to Netgalley and Oneworld Publications for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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Wednesday 12 December 2018

Book Review: THE HUMMINGBIRD by Kati Hiekkapelto

Author: Kati Hiekkapelto
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Read: December 2018
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ1/2

"Anna saw nothing wrong with looking for a better quality of living. Surely it was natural for everyone to search for such a thing? Why should it be restricted to people who already had everything they needed?"

Book Description:

Anna Fekete, who fled the Yugoslavian wars as a child, has just started working as a criminal investigator in a northern Finnish coastal town, when she is thrust into a rolling murder investigation. It doesn t help that her middle-aged new partner, Esko, doesn t bother hiding his racist prejudices. Anna s work as a criminal investigator barely gets off the ground before she is thrust into a high-profile, seemingly unsolvable case that has riveted the nation. A young woman has been killed on a running trail, and a pendant depicting an Aztec god has been found in her possession. Another murder soon follows. All signs point to a serial killer, but can Anna catch the Hummingbird before he or she strikes again?

My musings:

I am a huge fan of Scandinavian crime novels, but found I had never before read one set in Finland – this needed to be remedied ASAP! Kati Hiekkapelto is a new author for me, and I am happy to say that I really enjoyed her writing style. In particular, main protagonist Anna Fekete is a well-drawn and intriguing character who really drove the story. Born into a Hungarian minority group in Yugoslavia, Anna had to flee the war-torn country with her parents as a child and has spent most of her childhood in Finland, yet still remains an outsider, identifying herself more with her Hungarian background than her Finnish one. She recently left her old workplace to commence a new position as criminal investigator in the same northern Finnish coastal town she grew up in, where her estranged brother is still living. Starting her new job knowing that she was hired to represent an ethnic minority in the workforce, Anna knows that she will be likely to battle prejudice and pressure from some colleagues, who are resenting the ever-growing number of migrants coming to the country. However, she has not bargained with being partnered with the worst offender, Esko, who is not afraid to tell her how he feels about “bloody foreigners” in general.

Anna’s migrant background and her feelings of constantly being torn between her heritage and her new adopted country rang true for me, and added a depth to the story missing in many other crime novels. Without Anna, the murders themselves, whilst interesting, would otherwise have blended into the fray of many other similar stories. As an added bonus, Hiekkapelto also introduces an interesting side story to the main murder-mystery, that of a teenage Kurdish girl who has made a phone call to emergency services to call for help but now claims that this has been a misunderstanding. Anna knows that many of these girls disappear without a trace, forcibly married off to strangers by their own families, and suspects that the girl is too afraid to talk to her for fear of retribution from her parents.

I loved the way Hiekkapelto introduces topical themes of immigration, racism and cultural differences into her story, with Anna representing one of the migrant groups who have assimilated well into their new country but still struggle with adversity, whether through feeling torn between their two home countries or struggling against people’s prejudices. The author’s spare and direct prose perfectly creates the bleak and chilly atmosphere so typical of Nordic noir, which is one of the reasons I seek out the genre above others. The only criticism I would make is that the translation could have done with a bit of tweaking to read more smoothly, which is an art that is often difficult to achieve.


All in all, The Hummingbird was an enjoyable police procedural with an interesting main protagonist and I will definitely come back to read more in the series.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Book Review: I REMEMBER YOU by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Read: December 2018
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ all the stars!

Book Description:

In this terrifying tale, three friends set to work renovating a rundown house in a remote, totally isolated location. But they soon realize they are not as alone as they thought. Something wants them to leave. Meanwhile, in a nearby town, a young doctor investigating the suicide of an elderly woman discovers that she was obsessed with his vanished son. When the two stories collide, the shocking truth becomes horribly clear.

In the vein of Stephen King and John Ajvide Lindqvist, this horrifying thriller, partly based on a true story, is the scariest novel yet from Yrsa SigurdardΓ³ttir, who has captivated the attention of readers around the world with her mystery series featuring attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir. Now, Yrsa will stun readers once again with this out-of-this-world ghost story that will leave you shivering.

My musings:

Let me just start this review by warning you that I still have goosebumps whilst sitting here writing this, with all the lights in my house blazing and the knowledge that I will be terrified of venturing out in the dark for some time to come! I Remember You was by far the creepiest book I have read all year, and the choice to listen to this on audio on my commute to and from night shift was both a blessing and a curse: a blessing, because it kept me terrified and awake even after a looong busy shift, and a curse because I was terrified of getting out of my car in the dark!

Let’s start with the setting, which was simply perfect. A creepy old house in a remote spot on the Icelandic coast which can only be reached by boat. No phone reception. No electricity. Not another living soul in sight. Would YOU go there in winter to work on a house you have never even laid eyes on? After reading this book, the answer will be a definite: “No way!” However, our three main characters GarΓ°ar, KatrΓ­n and LΓ­f (plus their little dog) think it is a great idea to spend a week away from the rat-race of their busy jobs in Reykjavik to restore the cottage they hope will bring them some money as a holiday rental come summer, when the remote village of Hesteyri will be brimming with tourists. Perhaps the first inkling they get of the foolhardiness of their plan is when the skipper of the boat they chartered to get them there warns them of the fate of the house’s previous owner, who disappeared without a trace before he could complete renovations himself. Or perhaps at the very moment he hands them the key to another house in the village, just in case they need a safe shelter. Or was it when he tells them that there is no phone signal, and no electricity, so they will need to keep their phones charged in case they have to call for help from a nearby mountain? Perhaps they should have heeded the warnings, because some of the group may not make it out alive ...

I have only just discovered Yrsa Sigurdardottir this year, and I am already addicted to her writing. Rarely has an author been able to evoke such a perfect setting and an atmosphere of suspense as Sigurdardottir  has created here. Iceland, with its remoteness, its inclement weather and long winter nights really provides the perfect setting for a spooky thriller with some supernatural themes that made this an outstanding creepy read for me.

The story plays out in two separate POV’s: one exploring the fate of the three friends in Hesteyri, the other from the POV of Freyr, a psychologist helping the police with the investigation into the strange suicide of a woman in a local church. A woman who seems to have information regarding the mysterious unsolved disappearance of Freyr’s little son three years earlier. Sigurdardottir  manages to cram a lot into this spooky read, from the mystery surrounding the women’s death, to the case of little Benni’s disappearance, to the fate of the three friends in Heseyri – and more! 


I just adored everything about this book, the supernatural element adding just the right amount of goosebumps to a clever, multi-faceted mystery. These type of books are as rare as hen’s teeth, which is why I Remember You is one of my most exciting discoveries of 2018. Very highly recommended to lovers of the genre and all readers looking for a creepy, atmospheric read by a master of suspense.

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Book Review: UNSHELTERED by Barbara Kingsolver

Title: Unsheltered
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Publisher: Harper
Read: December 2018
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ1/2

Book Description:

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound. 

My musings:

I adore Kingsolver’s writing and some of her books feature on my all-time-favourite-books list, so I was very excited to receive an ARC of her latest novel from Edelweiss (thank you!). The premise of two people from different times in history being linked through the house they live in sounded intriguing, especially in the context of real historical events. Having read Kingsolver’s books in the past, I knew that she would not shy away from difficult subjects and would include thought-provoking and well-written observations in her story.

I am not going to beat around the bush though, and will admit straight up that I initially really struggled with this book. It took me a long time to engage with the characters, and I may even have DNF’d it if I hadn’t been invited at that very moment to read it as a buddy read with The Traveling Friends group hosted by Brenda on IG. Ultimately, whilst it may not go into the history books as one of my favourites, I am glad that I persevered because Kingsolver raised some interesting points that made for a great discussion and made me reflect on the meaning of shelter in the context of recent political events.

Unsheltered plays out in two separate timelines, with fifty-something journalist Willa Knox leading the narrative set in the present and teacher Thatcher Greenwood featuring in the events taking part in the 1870’s. Both timelines are loosely tethered by the house Willa’s family have recently moved into, a dilapidated old mansion in Vineland, New Jersey, that also provided shelter for Thatcher at one stage. Another interesting side character is botanist Mary Treat, a real historical figure who was in correspondence with Charles Darwin at the time and was a great supporter of his theories. After struggling with the first third of the book, I gradually became more and more intrigued with each of the characters and their struggles, even though I thought that their connection remained somewhat intangible and read like two completely separate narratives. 

An interesting concept that runs through both timelines and features several times in the book is that of “shelter”, with many different meanings attached to it. Firstly, there is the physical shelter in the form of the old house, which is crumbling around Willa’s family and threatening the comfortable retirement they have envisaged after a life of moving around the country whilst raising their children to adulthood. On the other hand, shelter also refers to the comforts our society has come to expect, which are being threatened by current political events and the environmental disaster waiting just around the corner for us. In the course of our discussion, I realised how sheltered my life has been to date, as we still enjoy a lot of the concepts that are being threatened for Willa’s family in the book – like free healthcare, housing and living in a country that has still remained relatively untouched from environmental disaster (or prefers to ignore it). I especially enjoyed exploring the topic through the eyes of Tig, Willa’s somewhat prickly but resilient daughter, who is the generation of my own children and will have to live with the fallout from decisions made by previous generations. As usual, Kingsolver’s social observations and the drawing of her characters are spot-on, which gradually pulled me into the story and made me think about for a long time after finishing the books, which I guess achieved the very thing she intended it to!

I admit I felt a lot less invested in Thatcher’s timeline, although being very intrigued by the whole science vs religion debates, which made for fascinating reading. I think that Thatcher and Mary would have been better served had a separate book been dedicated solely to their story, as there was so much that was left unexplored here. 


I could go on and on about the different topics discussed here, which brings me to the conclusion that Unsheltered would make the perfect book for a bookclub choice or a buddy read. For me, the buddy read was a saving grace, especially being able to discuss the issues with readers from various different countries and backgrounds, who brought so much more to the table than my own very limited views on the matter. Kingsolver writes with an honesty not often found in other novels, and her social commentary is spot-on and very thought provoking. If you are looking for a book that will open your mind and make for many great discussion points, then this should definitely be on your radar!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Book Review: THE RECKONING by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Title: The Reckoning
Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Read: November 2018
Expected publication: out now

Book Description:

A chilling note predicting the deaths of six people is found in a school's time capsule, ten years after it was buried. But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can't be a real threat...

Detective Huldar suspects he's been given the investigation simply to keep him from real police work. He turns to psychologist Freyja to help understand the child who hid the message. Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.

For the discovery of the letter coincides with a string of macabre events: body parts found in a garden, followed by the murder of the man who owned the house. His initials are BT, one of the names on the note.

Huldar and Freyja must race to identify the writer, the victims and the murderer, before the rest of the targets are killed...

My musings:

Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Children’s House series has been my most exciting discovery in 2018, and I fully expect to become totally addicted to future books in the series. It is so good that I picked up The Reckoning immediately after turning the last page of The Legacy because I had to find out what would become of investigative duo Freyja and Huldar.

Sigurdardottir again delivers an intriguing and somewhat creepy premise – a time capsule sealed at a local school ten years ago has now been opened, containing a list of names that predicts the death of several people in 2016. Huldar, demoted to solve minor crimes after his massive fall from grace in The Legacy, has been tasked with finding out who would write such a dark and sinister letter, and must investigate whether this has been a prank or whether there is any danger of harm befalling the people named in the list. And since the letter had allegedly been written by a young boy at the time, none would be better to help solve the mystery than child psychologist Freyja, who specialises in disturbed and traumatised children. Even though Freyja herself is still suffering the consequences of their last doomed partnership and is less than eager to be involved in yet another one of Huldar’s troublesome investigations. Of course, it doesn’t take long until the first body turns up, and Huldar finds himself once more involved in the sinister game of a ruthless killer.

It’s no secret that I like my crime novels dark and disturbing, and Sigurdadottir is a true queen of the creepy and haunting.  The Children’s House series is not for the faint of heart, as both books feature some disturbing themes, in this case hints at horrific acts of child abuse and quite gruesome murder scenes. However, Sigurdardottir’s writing style strikes exactly the right balance between too lurid on one end of the spectrum or too nebulous and glossing over at the other, so that the scenes can play out vividly without crossing the line that would turn suspense into revulsion - and still maintain the shock value I have come to expect from books in the genre. As in The Legacy, the final reveal took me by surprise and showed how cleverly constructed this mystery really was. Personally, my favourite part of the book was to learn more about Freyja and Huldar’s lives, as I have become quite fond of these two flawed but lovable characters.  

Short of being able to learn to speak Icelandic anytime soon, I will have to comfort myself with the promise of an English translation of part three in the series coming out in 2019. I, for one, will surely be lining up for it, because Freyja and Huldar have really gotten under my skin and I am eager to learn more about yet another case they can hopefully solve together. In the meantime, I am making my way through some of Sigurdatottir’s other books, happy that there is a long backlist to choose from. If you are a fan of Nordic noir with dark and disturbing undertones, then I strongly urge you to pick this one up!