Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Great Debut

So I'm finishing up reading Christina Sunley's amazing debut, The Tricking of Freya, and I decided that I have to tell you all about it. 

Now I know that it seems like I read mostly thrillers, and I probably do. But I also read quite a few other things. One of my favorites in years past has been Cindy Dyson's And She Was which you will remember from this post. Now what does that have to do with Christina Sunley's book? Well, it's true that Sunley's tale is quite bit different from Dyson's, but something about it keeps reminding me of that book. I think it's a combination of the cold setting, the amazing imagery, and the fact that both authors are superb storytellers. That said, if you've read Dyson, then you're sure to love Sunley's tale as well. 

In The Tricking of Freya, Freya Morris has recently discovered that her aunt, Birdie, had a child who was given up for adoption. It is Freya's goal not only to track down her missing cousin, but also to tell this person as much about their family as she can. She begins with her first visit to Gimli, in Canada. Their grandfather, a famous poet, traveled from his native Iceland after a volcanic eruption covered the land in ash, killing crops and sheep. Years later, his soon-to-be-wife made the same journey. They had two daughters, Birdie and Freya's mother, Anna. Eventually, Anna travels to the United States where she stays until Freya is seven. Their first trip to Gimli is the first time that Freya meets her extended family face to face. Sadly, it is also on that trip that Freya's mother suffers an accident from which she never truly recovers, an accident that Freya will never forgive herself for. Birdie turns out to be a true force to be reckoned with. Her manic episodes are a cause of much stress in the family. Freya is too young to understand what they are and idolizes her crazy and energetic aunt. It is the summer of Freya's thirteenth year that changes everything. The following year, Birdie commits suicide, something Freya also blames herself for. As Freya's anger and later her own guilt prevent her from returning to Canada, she attempts to move on with her own life. It is only upon finally returning to Canada that she again finds purpose in life, purpose in telling her family's tale, in finding her missing relative. 

This is such a beautiful tale. Like the famed poet within, Sunley's writing is truly poetic. She brings Iceland and Gimli alive in a way that will make you believe that you have been there and experienced it all yourself (or will make you wish you could - booking a trip to Reykjavik anyone?). I love the fact that there is so much Norse mythology and history throughout this book as well. Iceland and its people have such a rich and interesting history and Sunley incorporates it perfectly with her story. 

It's clear to me why this book is garnering such attention (a starred review in PW, and a fabulous write-up in More magazine, amongst others). I think everyone should run out and buy this book, it's a fantastic read and I hope I've done it justice here.  

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