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The Tricking of Freya

A Novel

Christina Sunley

St. Martin's Press

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.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Tricking of Freya

"An intricate family travelogue...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, starred review
 
"Sparkles with the author's love of language and of her own Icelandic culture. The book's masterfully told final mysteries reveal themselves as magically as darkroom images appearing under the light." --More Magazine

"High-spirited and precocious Freya is the only child of her late-in-life, widowed mother, who waits until Freya is a coltish seven to finally return to Manitoba , Canada , to visit her mother and her sister, wild and beautiful Birdie. Freya’s grandfather was a revered poet, and her family is proud of their Icelandic heritage, especially Birdie, who insists that her niece learn Icelandic and memorize the ancient sagas, a mission that turns disastrous. Freya tells the story of her strange, nearly catastrophic girlhood years later, an act that liberates her from a lonely and smothering life. This wounded daughter of a land of the midnight sun recounts a journey to Iceland as dramatic, dangerous, and mysterious as any ancient epic adventure, and retraces her ardent quest for the truth about a staggering family secret. Steeped in the highly symbolic mythology, complex language, and otherworldly landscape of Iceland, and the little-known story of the nineteenth-century Icelandic diaspora, Sunley’s astonishingly accomplished debut is a bewitching tale of volcanic emotions, cultural inheritance, family sorrows, mental illness, and life-altering discoveries."--Donna Seaman, Booklist

"Some novels, in addition to all else they accomplish, simply make great company: Christina Sunley's first novel is one...We come away charmed, moved and larger within, having toured a hidden world with a passionate guide." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Impressive...an armchair tour of a country of unparalleled beauty and strangeness."--The Seattle Times

"[An] amazing debut...Like the famed poet within, Sunley's writing is truly poetic. She brings here settings alive in a way that will make you believe that you have been there and experienced it all yourself."--BookBitch.com

"Epic... Sunley's research shines through in a story in which the landscape of Iceland is as much a character as Freya, making this an exceptional and unique coming-of-age novel." --Washington State Journal

"Irresistible...smoldering emotions in a cold climate." --Telegraph Herald

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Christina Sunley

  • CHRISTINA SUNLEY grew up hearing stories about her Icelandic grandparents and the massive emigration that followed a 19th century volcanic eruption. She has visited Iceland for extended stays to research and write this novel. Her short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and she has taught memoir writing and fiction at universities. She now lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

  • Christina Sunley © Lisa Keating
    Christina Sunley
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The Tricking of Freya

A Novel

Christina Sunley

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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