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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iceland in Your Veins
If, by chance, you are interested in Iceland then this book will reach out, grab your heart and keep your interest for hours. A mother, sister, Grandmother, and friend join forces in the raising of Freya. A young girl, clumsy and eager, visits Canadian Gimli with her mother. Over many years, the story unwinds, with surprising twists and turns that create a story where an...
Published on February 16, 2009 by A. Sullivan

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was awesome to experience a lot of the sights that are ...
The story itself is a bit predictable but the description of the epic scenery in Iceland is spot on. I started reading before I left for Iceland and finished when I returned. It was awesome to experience a lot of the sights that are described in the book and the author does a great job of capturing just how magical the scenery is on the island.
Published 2 months ago by Kristy Nittskoff


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iceland in Your Veins, February 16, 2009
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If, by chance, you are interested in Iceland then this book will reach out, grab your heart and keep your interest for hours. A mother, sister, Grandmother, and friend join forces in the raising of Freya. A young girl, clumsy and eager, visits Canadian Gimli with her mother. Over many years, the story unwinds, with surprising twists and turns that create a story where an underlayment of Icelandic history becomes a foundation for growth.

I completely loved this book. I am Scotch-Irish and still found myself totally involved in the characters, their intertwined relationships, and the link of Icelandic culture, language, and geography. In the telling of the tale, this author intertwines geneology, cultural paradigms, and the awkwardness of teenage social acceptability regardless of culture.

If you are interested in stretching your horizons through an excellent read, learning about Icelandic culture, and the link between countries and cultures, then this book is an excellent adventure betwixt your ears.

History being what it is, I gained a depth of understanding of the culture of Iceland that I never would have acquired watching the news. Perhaps readers of today are ready to stretch their horizons, adventure beyond the comforts of home and dive into a book that will draw in their hearts, their dreams and broaden their horizons as well.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting "Icelandic" Viewpoint, March 10, 2009
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It took me a while to get "into" this novel. The writing style is a bit convoluted, in that the author strives to include lots of Icelandic lore and words. Nothing wrong with that, but the words in particular tend to cause speed-bumps in the reading process.

However, I still rated this novel with five stars. The character development is excellent, the mystery (although slow to unfold), is very good. The ending is a bit predictable (I saw it at least two chapters before it was revealed), but overall the book is very satisfying.

At first I wasn't enthused about the author's use of the reader as a "cousin", but as time went on I got used to it - although it seemed a bit contrived, even to the end of the book. The literary device just seemed to cause me to pause in my reading; I suppose it is because just being CALLED cousin doesn't make the reader seem like a relative, and to me the book didn't draw the reader in from that aspect.

The descriptions of Iceland are very good, and I got a good feel for the immigrant culture.

There are a few adult moments in the book, but it should be fine for early teenagers and older. I think it would be confusing for younger children.

I recommend this book for people who are interested in Iceland, Icelandic traditions and culture, and those who want a slowly unfolding mystery.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look into Icelandic culture and family dynamics, March 17, 2009
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I love Iceland. I find it a magical island with some of the most polite people I have met. So, when I had the opportunity to read this book I jumped at it.

The book did not disappoint. Although there were times it seemed like the author had a list of Icelandic cultural information that she forced into a short passage, on the whole it is a very realistic and interesting look at the land and culture.

Although Iceland features prominently in the book, this is way more than just a book about Iceland. "The Tricking of Freya" is primarily about family dynamics and family secrets. Bi-polar illness is prominently featured. Readers who had been fortunate enough to not been exposed to this disorder will find this book a realistic look at the nerve-racking world of those who love someone suffering from the disease.

Excellent book on many levels. Recommended, especially for fellow Iceland lovers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written book about self-discovery, August 24, 2010
This review is from: The Tricking of Freya (Hardcover)
The Tricking of Freya is the story of a young woman named Freya Morris who grew up traveling to visit family in Gimli, Manitoba and being told stories of her roots in Iceland. Her Aunt Birdie adores her and takes Freya under her wing whenever she visits Gimli--teaching her Icelandic and Norse mythology. However, due to Birdie's erratic behavior, the family's relationship with her is complicated and lends itself to mystery. It is this mystery that eventually sends Freya to Iceland to learn more about Birdie, the rest of the family, and Iceland.

Although I have never been to Iceland, I have been to Scandinavia once. Although this book wasn't written yet, I wish I had read something like this before I went. The story is simply beautiful. Freya's journey is one of self-discovery which I enjoy being a descendant of somewhat recent immigrants myself. I have heard some stories about my family's history so I really enjoyed Freya's journey to Canada and Iceland to discover more about herself. There were little things like the references to pönnökokur and vínerterta that made me want to try Icelandic food, short tellings of Norse mythology that made me want to read more complete versions of the stories, and descriptions of both Gimli and Iceland that made me want to visit both places. I even sat and read Christina Sunley's blog about her journey to Iceland and looked up pictures of some of the places mentioned in the book. It made the book even more beautiful to read her experience and look at the pictures she took while in Iceland. I also enjoyed reading her interview at the end of the book because it brought to life just how wonderful the Icelandic people seem to be.

Miss Sunley's writing was beautiful. Birdie was a difficult character whose mental illness made it difficult to like her, but I loved her at the same time. She gave Freya her Icelandic identity which was invaluable but was also responsible for some less admirable outcomes in Freya's life. The book really does explain the toll mental illness can take on a family in ways that were sometimes quite raw to read. I did enjoy reading about it though because it gives a fair picture of what it must be like to love someone that can hurt you so deeply (even without mental illness, that is part of loving someone--we love every part of them even if we don't like some things about them). This aspect of the book was what impacted me most, and I think it's definitely something that is invaluable to read for those people who have mental illness that runs in their family. The book told this aspect of the story in such a dignified way that it really spoke to me.

I will admit that I figured out the mystery in the book about 2/3 of the way into it, but it didn't make me like it any less. The book was more about Freya's journey of self-discovery as an American of Icelandic descent, and her acceptance of who she was. The essence of the book was her growth as a person from childhood to adulthood, and how she resolved her past in her own mind. It was simply a beautiful telling of a woman who finds out who she really is in life as she processes all the moments of her life.

*Notice of disclosure: I received this book for review from Terra Communications.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed, February 8, 2009
By 
Daffy Du (Del Mar, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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Iceland, which I had the pleasure of visiting in 2005, is a beautiful, fascinating country, so I jumped at the chance to read The Tricking of Freya, which promised an inside look at its culture and history, along with an intriguing plot.

On the cultural, historical and linguistic front, Freya absolutely delivers. The book successfully depicts the richness of Iceland's heritage, and I found myself wishing we'd had the author along on our trip. On the fictional front, however, the narrative is less satisfying. While the writing itself is strong and the character of Birdie in particularly is vividly portrayed, the overall storyline is hobbled by too much detail, and the pacing really drags in places. Certain themes recur too often: I got tired of Freya's endless self-flagellation, and the description of her life in New York at times is as dreary as her life itself. It's as if the author was so in love with her subject, she lost the objectivity to know when to back off. I kept wanting to say, "Enough already! I get it!"

Then there were the logical gaps. How, realistically, could Birdie have whisked 13-year-old Freya away to Iceland? Wouldn't Freya have needed a passport, which few young kids in America had in the 1970s? And what did Birdie live on? Where did she get the money for their trip?

The book's main conceit--a LONG letter to a long-lost cousin--is an interesting device, but ultimately awkward, especially when the author abandons it in the last few chapters. My biggest criticism, though, is that the denouement is utterly predictable; I had it figured out about halfway through, which made me less motivated to finish the book than I might otherwise have been.

That said, on balance, I think the book's strengths outweigh its weaknesses. It does offer a fairly realistic picture of mental illness (with a sibling who was schizophrenic, I have some experience with it), and there are some strong depictions of the strained relations that characterize so many families. Sunley is clearly skilled in her use of language, which can be a real pleasure. As long as you're not expecting perfection and have the patience to sit through more pages than were perhaps necessary, you will come away mostly entertained and with a new appreciation for Icelandic culture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good book, May 2, 2009
I had never heard of this author but since my husband is born and raised in Iceland and has family in Gimi I was interested in the story. What a pleasent surprise. This was a great read. Very enjoyable and kept me interested and intriqued the whole way through. I highly recommend this book even if you don't have any Icelandic connections. Enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Work, March 3, 2010
By 
The Tricking of Freya
By Christina Sunley

Book Review by Debra Louise Scott

Excerpt: "It's a lot of death. I know. Believe me. I know. But we'll try not to focus on that. The point here is resurrection, wordly reanimation. Infuse the dead with words and they'll spring to life on the page, just for you."

The publisher's review pegs this as a coming of age novel. It's not. It is about a girl that starts out young and is an adult by the end of the book, but if anything, I would say it's about a girl that had her coming of age slammed to a screeching halt by an accident she feels responsible for , her subsequent guilt, and the mental instability of a family member. It's about family and the secrets families hide. It's about pride in an immigrant heritage, and the culture shock of the reality of the homeland. It's about language.

Christina Sunley's protagonist, Freya, soars, crashes, and then soars again like an osprey trying desperately to navigate the bitter north winds with an injured wing. We see the world through Freya's eyes, and understand what drives the madness and secrecy that surrounds her. When her mother suffers a crippling accident, the world stops, and we feel the guilt of a young girl blaming herself and choosing to punish herself for the rest of her childhood. And in the middle of all that, she grows up. One day she realizes she wants some answers. Here a new quest starts, an obsession that leads to her knowing who, and what, she is.

This is an amazing book. The writing is exquisite, from the descriptions of her surroundings and family, to moments of deep reflection, to the pace of the storyline which runs, strolls, twists, stumbles, drags and dances, keeping pace with Freya's life. As if that weren't enough of a commendation, Sunley sets the settled acculturation of the Icelandic immigrants against the stark and frighteningly tentative beauty of Iceland's volatile geology as only someone with firsthand experience can do.

Bravo, Christina.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted novel of family, exile and deceit, March 2, 2009
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The Tricking of Freya, the debut novel by Christina Sunley, tells the story of Freya, a young girl of Icelandic descent growing up in America. When she is seven years old, her mother Anna takes her to see relatives in Canada, where an Icelandic émigré community lives. An accident that occurs during the visit changes Freya's relationship to her family and herself.

In subsequent summers, Freya and her mother make annual trips, until something happens to drive Anna and her sister Birdie apart forever.

Decades later, Freya returns for her grandmother's birthday and overhears a family secret. This motivates her to dig into the history of the family she has tried to avoid for so long.

This book is fascinating on many levels. In addition to the story of a girl and a family, it is also the story of a little known community of émigrés. Sunley paints a vivid portrait of the land and culture both in Iceland and in Canada. The reader feels like they are receiving a guided tour of Iceland's natural highlights, as well as a lesson in history, literature and culture.

Sunley has crafted the story seamlessly, carrying the reader along as the tale twists and turns, like the windy roads in Iceland built to accommodate elves. The observations of the child Freya show an authentic innocence and an ability to connect disparate thoughts. Sunley weaves in scenery, culture, history and literature throughout. She uses beautiful turns of phrase and ingenuous analogies, such as bodies taking the shape of punctuation marks.

A thoroughly enjoyable book that will not only take you into a compelling story, but will teach you about a fascinating history and a country of ice cold and molten heat. A truly enjoyable book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey into the soul of Iceland; via 'New Iceland'....., July 26, 2010
By 
j. olsen (minneapolis, mn) - See all my reviews
THE TRICKING OF FREYA is a profound experience to read. Quite an accomplishment by a first time novelist. The book manages to capture aspects of the fascinating (to me) Icelandic history, geography, culture, tradition, literature, sensibility, spirit and soul. All while telling an engaging, poignant, adventurous modern family 'saga' peopled with fully realistic complex 3-dimensional characters.

The mass of the story takes place in little known 'New Iceland' of Manitoba, Canada, centered in the town of Gimli on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. This (area) is where many thousands of Icelanders emigrated in the late-1870's after a volcanic eruption destroyed much of the farmable land of eastern Iceland.

The book also takes the reader on journeys to Iceland itself: unforgettable journeys that in and of themselves could stand proud with some of the best travel writing. The perspectives/perceptions of our tour guides on these Iceland trips are 'heightened' in just the right way-- To read about. -- 'Inspired' and 'uniquely informed' in a way that is a perfect match for the exotic, inspiring, amazing landscape and culture/heritage of Iceland.

Actually traveling (in reality) with our guides might not be so pleasant... the magic of literature. (You will learn about these italicized descriptions, in all their complexity, when you read the book- a title/name/diagnosis (bi-polar disorder) alone, doesn't suffice in description in my opinion. The handling of this complex topic as one theme of the book, in such an inspired unforced manner, is a good part of what makes the book special.

Interesting people, interesting places, interesting culture. Flowing fast-moving narrative. Definitely a journey worth taking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique Settings, May 29, 2009
By 
LH422 (Washington, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Every summer of her childhood Freya Morris travels from her Connecticut home to the Manitoban resort town of Gimli. Gimli, an Icelandic-Canadian settlement, is home to Freya's entire maternal family. In Gimli Freya is immersed in the Icelandic culture her mother has neglected in their Connecticut life. Most appealing to Freya is time spent with her eccentric and troubled Aunt Birdie. As Freya grows older she learns Icelandic language and culture from Birdie. She also learns that Birdie is mentally ill, and can hurt those she loves on a whim. I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. I knew nothing about Icelandic literature and myth, and I learned a great deal from this book. I also knew very little about Iceland, and Sunley's descriptions of the landscape are rich and evocative. She clearly illustrates Iceland's primordial landscape-- one of volcanic plains, geysers, and glaciers. Sunley also does an excellent job creating an Icelandic community in Canada. Again, I knew nothing of Icelandic migration to Canada, or of Icelandic enclaves in the prairies. While I was able to predict the plot's twist long before it was revealed I still found the book to be both engaging and enjoyable. It brought me into a world of the unknown.
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The Tricking of Freya
The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley (Hardcover - March 3, 2009)
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