Dec 27, 2009

Book Review: The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley

The Tricking of Freya: A Novel by Christina Sunley
Published 2009 by St. Martin's Press
Genre: fiction

Synopsis: Young Freya has been tricked more times than she likes, both in big and small ways. The biggest trick begins with an unexpected trip, when she is enticed by her aunt Birdie to travel with her for three weeks to the land of their ancestors, Iceland, supposedly to find the lost letters of their grandfather, the famous poet Olafur, Skald Nyja Islands.

The tricking of Freya involves a Wild Sheep Chase (a la Haruki Murakami) to Iceland - the land of elves, Norse gods, lava rocks, black sand, glaciers, and thick-furred Icelandic sheep. Freya normally lives in Connecticut with her mother Anna and only travels every summer to the small New Iceland community in Manitoba, Canada where her aunt and grandmother live. Freya is intrigued by her temperamental aunt Birdie, an aspiring poet who has manic highs and lows. In her good moods, Birdie teaches Freya the complex grammar of the Icelandic language and its folklore.

Following that first trip to Iceland with Birdie, a disastrous summer trip that seemed like a wild goose chase, Freya visits Iceland again many years later after Birdie's death, this time alone and to find answers about the past, the identity of a mysterious relative, and about the biggest trick of all that has been ongoing over the years.

Comments: The rich array of fictional characters created in the Icelandic community in Canada and in the homeland - from  traditional to progressive to manic personalities - makes this an engrossing story, expertly told. I came away with a better understanding of Icelandic culture, the land and language, and the history of Icelandic immigration to Canada beginning in the 1870s. In the book, Iceland is described as having the highest literacy rate of any European country and as a place that values its history and poetry, and the mythology of its Norse gods.

A saying I particularly liked was: Blindur er boklaus madur - blind is the bookless man.
The setting is an important part of the appeal of the novel. I was first attracted by the title and the cover, and borrowed the book twice from the library, finishing it in just a few days the second time.

To see the interview I did later with the author, click here for Interview with Christina Sunley.


  1. This book sounds wonderful! Looks like a beautiful setting for the story too! Thanks for sharing! I will definitely put it on my book list!

  2. This sounds like a fabulous read!

    My Sunday Salon:

  3. Wow! It does sound good and I love that cover.

  4. I've never read a book set in Iceland and this one sounds pretty interesting. I really like the quote that you posted about too....I'll have to mark this one as TBR for 2010!!

  5. nicked again! it's added. can't you read something i won't like!

  6. I don't think that I've read any books set in Iceland. This sounds good to me. Great review; thanks so much

  7. The cover would've caught my attention too! And the setting sounds interesting, especially since I hardly know anything about Iceland, other than what I've seen in an episode of Man vs. Wild :)

  8. I definitely want to read this one now.

  9. My book club read this book and was able to discuss it with Christina last August.

    Here's the link to our recap

  10. I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

  11. Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)


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