Title: The Tricking of Freya
Author: Christina Sunley
Release Date: March 3, 2009
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Tricking of Freya follows twenty years in the life of Freya, the only daughter of a widowed mother. Every year, her relatives beg her mother to come to Canada, where they settled after migrating from Iceland, but they don’t make the trip until Freya is seven years old. After that, they return to Canada yearly, where Freya gets to know her bipolar aunt Birdie. Over the years, Freya senses a tension between her mother and Birdie, which culminates in a blow-out caused by Birdie’s selfish actions, after which Freya and her mother refuse to return to Canada.
Years later, Freya finally makes the trip back to Canada in order to visit with her grandmother. There she stumbles on a secret and dedicates herself to understanding her family’s complicated past.
The Tricking of Freya is a complicated yet incredibly well-written novel. Sunley’s writing is simply beautiful. In some ways, it’s cold – I can’t exactly describe how, but the entire writing style was evocative of Iceland to me. It was haunting and lonely, yet absolutely gorgeous. Christine Sunley’s writing really made the entire novel, elevating it to an entirely different level.
The mythology of Iceland is woven throughout The Tricking of Freya. Freya herself is named after the Norse goddess Freyja, and that is a running theme over the course of the novel. Sunley is careful to include the history of Iceland within her book; as a result, the reader learns a lot while the novel is unfolding. It’s always nice to learn something new from a book, and since there don’t seem to be that many contemporary books about Iceland or Norse mythology, there is a lot to be learned from this novel.
The mystery within The Tricking of Freya was carefully woven and very well done. Though I did anticipate parts of it, Sunley had a way of crafting it to keep the reader hooked. The mystery didn’t actually develop until the second half of the novel; therefore, the first half was slow at times. However, that didn’t really detract from the book. This is a quiet, contemplative novel. It’s one that will make you think while you are reading it and long after it is over. It will stick with you – the book’s greatest strength is its lingering, haunting quality.
Freya is a well-written character, though she can be difficult to identify with. She seems to hold the reader (as well as everyone else) at an arm’s length. It’s difficult to get to know her, to get under her skin. That seems to be purposeful on the author’s part – Freya is cold and broken. Her past experiences have left her unable to trust anyone around her, including the reader. She doesn’t let anyone in. Writing Freya this way reaffirms many of the themes of the novels and makes her a very interesting character that the reader wants to dissect.
The Tricking of Freya is a novel to savor. It’s not something to be rushed through. I admit I wasn’t sure about it when I accepted it for review, but Christine Sunley really surprised me. This is a deftly written, layered novel with compelling characters, an incredibly interesting Icelandic backdrop and a well-crafted mystery. If you’re looking for a novel to lose yourself in, The Tricking of Freya is sure to please.