Author/ Snorri Kristjansson
Page no. / 320
Publication date/ March 8th 2018
Series or standalone / The Helga Finnsdottir Book 1
Star rating / ★★★.5
Goodreads synopsis: He can deny it all he likes, but everyone knows Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson brought home a great chest of gold when he retired from the longboats and settled down with Hildigunnur in a remote valley. Now, in the summer of 970, adopted daughter Helga is awaiting the arrival of her unknown siblings: dark, dangerous Karl, lithe, clever Jorunn, gentle Aslak, henpecked by his shrewish wife, and the giant Bjorn, made bitter by Volund, his idiot son. And they’re coming with darkness in their hearts. The siblings gather, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface as Unnthor’s heirs make their moves on the old man’s treasure – until one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed: kin has been slain. No one confesses, but all the clues point to one person – who cannot possibly be the murderer, at least in Helga’s eyes. But if she’s going to save the innocent from the axe and prevent more bloodshed, she’s got to solve the mystery – fast…
This is a murder mystery/crime story with Vikings, a dysfunctional family and an element of Norse mythology. I didn’t know too much about this book but I am glad that I gave it a go. From the very beginning I was intrigued by the family we follow in this story. It is clear that not all is as it seems and there are a lot of secrets with the house of this family. This added to the overall sense of unease and suspense that builds throughout the book. I think this was one of the main strengths of this book. The atmosphere builds throughout and keeps you engaged even when the pacing is a bit slow. Speaking of the pacing, the flow of the story was good. The beginning is a bit slow but that’s just due to introducing the world and it doesn’t impact on the overall reading experience. After a couple of chapters you settle into the flow of the story and the pacing picks up. Once I’d started reading, I didn’t want to put the book down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Moving onto the world. I think the author did a great job at transporting the reader to the world of this Viking family but I kind of wanted more of the world as a whole. In this book we get a very insular look into the family and I understand why as it introduces us to the main character of the series (Helga) and the murder happens with the family household, but I wanted more context. Where is this family in relation to the wider world? I am hopeful that there will be more world building in the future books of this series. This is only a small issue as I still think the author has done a good job at creating this world. I really enjoyed the inclusion of Norse mythology, as mythology is something that has always interested me.
In terms of characters, I thought it was quite good cast, although some were lacking depth. It was initially a little tricky remembering names but after a couple of chapters it becomes easier to identify the different personalities. Helga is a great female protagonist and this was a fantastic introduction to her character. Her adopted parents are both intriguing and I really liked the way the author cloaked them in mystery. The siblings are all well written, however I couldn’t help but feel that they were a little superficial. I did think that some of the dialogue was perhaps a little modern at times, which can be quite jarring considering it is supposed to be set in 970. For the most part the dialogue is good, but at times a character would say something that just didn’t seem to fit into the time period. The relationships between these family members was really interesting as they are definitely a dysfunctional family. You never really know what the characters think of each other and some of the family interactions are quite tense, which lends itself to the level of unease once the murder takes place. I think it was clever to have Helga as an adopted daughter as she is more objective in her reasoning, despite her love for her adopted parents.
Overall I thought this was an enjoyable read with a good sense of suspense and an intriguing backdrop. This was my first book by this author but I am definitely interested in trying out more of his books as well as checking out the next book in this series. Have you read this book? What did you think? I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.