Review: The Tricking of Freya

Christina Sunley grew up hearing stories about her Icelandic relatives and their journey to North America, following the 1875 volcanic eruption that decimated much of Iceland's farmland. To write The Tricking of Freya, she spent several years researching Icelandic history, mythology, and genealogy, including three trips to Iceland and a stint as writer-in-residence at Klaustri├░ (The Monastery), a stone farmhouse in a remote area, near where her grandfather had lived. (source: Christina’s website)
I have had The Tricking of Freya on my TBR list for a few months. I don’t remember where I heard about this book but it intrigued me. If you like learning while reading, you will love this story. The author weaves in the Icelandic language and mythical stories as she tells a story about a young girl who learns of a family secret.
At age seven, during Freya’s first visit home to meet her family, Freya overhears that her Aunt Birdie had a child.
The novel opens with Freya, now a grown woman, writing a letter to a cousin she has yet to meet. As the pages turn we learn about Icelandic culture while reading about a family of strong women. Aunt Birdie is often at the center of the story, and Freya’s journey to finding her cousin is a memorable one.
Sunley is a talented storyteller. I loved the ending!
A review: Having grown up with grandparents who lived in Gimili and the surrounding districts of New Iceland, yet growing up in the U.S. myself, I felt that Christina Sunley did a fantastic job of describing how it was to be a Western Icelander....the rich heritage & traditions of our ancestry is so much of who we are today. She nailed it, yet did so with the captivating story of Freya....I LOVED IT!!! Thank-you Christina!
BWAV rating of this book: 4 stars
Type : Fiction, 342 pages, Harcover

Synopsis:A young woman obsessed with uncovering a family secret is drawn into the strange and magical history, language and landscape of Iceland.
Freya Morris grows up in a typical American suburb – but every summer, she enters another realm entirely when she visits her relatives in Gimli, a tiny village in Canada settled by Icelandic immigrants. Here she falls under the spell of her troubled but charming aunt Birdie, who thrills her with stories of exotic Norse goddesses, moody Viking bards, and the life of her late grandfather, the most famous poet of "New Iceland."
But when Birdie tricks Freya into a terrifying scandal, Freya turns her back on everything Icelandic and anything that reminds her of the past. She is living an anonymous, bleak existence in Manhattan when she finally returns to Gimli for the first time in two decades – and stumbles upon a long concealed family secret.
As Freya becomes increasingly obsessed with unraveling her family’s tangled story, she finds herself delving into the very memories she has worked so hard to forget. When the clues dry up in Gimli, Freya journeys to Iceland itself. On this rugged island of vast lava fields and immense glaciers, Freya’s quest comes to its unsettling conclusion.
A beautifully-written debut novel that deftly weaves together Iceland’s distinctive history, ancient mythology, reverence for language, and passion for genealogy, The Tricking of Freya is a powerful exploration of kinship, loss and redemption.

“This grand coming-of-age-novel boasts a dynamic set of characters and a rich bank of cultural and personal lore, making this dark, cold family tale a surprisingly lush experience.”- Publishers Weekly

“…Sunley’s astonishingly accomplished debut is a bewitching tale of volcanic emotions, cultural inheritance, family sorrows, mental illness, and life-altering discoveries.” - Booklist