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My Soul To Take
My Soul To Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Thóra Gudmundsdóttir's client Jónas Júlíusson wants her to look into the conditions of the land sale he made for the New Age health spa he runs in western Iceland.   Would the undisclosure of ghost haunting the place be cause for legal action?  Although Thóra does not believe in the ghost, she can't resist his offer for a nice weekend away from the children.  Thóra begins research the the history of the farmhouse, a history that becomes more and more disturbing as she unearths more and more details.  Even Thóra hears the strange eerie sounds associated with the ghost.  Could the haunting be real?  When the body of architect Birna Halldórsdóttir is discovered on the beach,  Thóra investigates in order to protect her client when his cell phone makes him a possible suspect in the brutal murder.  Could the murder have a connection to the haunting or is there some other motive connected to the spa itself?  When another body is found, a body with the same disturbing clues, Thóra's investigation becomes all the more pressing.  Can the evil of the past influence the present?  What deadly secrets will Thora discover?  Can those of the past speak to those present now long after their life stories have ended?

In the second book featuring attorney
Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, MY SOUL TO TAKE, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir prefaces the current day story with an account of a 1945 horrific crime account of the eerie murder of a child, a crime all the more disturbing for its non-violent premeditated murder seen through a child's perspective.  At first, the connection between the prologue and the main story seems unconnected but as Thóra unearths the past, the background of the past crime gives an eerie, and at times supernatural, atmosphere to the family history she discovers.  Although slightly less macabre in actual crime details than LAST RITUALS, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir's second thriller has elements in common with the first that make the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series so uniquely exquisite: the twisted creepiness of the crime and all its ramifications, a supernatural tone balanced by Thóra Gudmundsdóttir's more practical approach to clues, a connection between past and present and respect for history, and also a look into the deadly secrets within families.  In both thrillers, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir weaves Iceland's history, landscape and culture into the very fabric of the thriller.  MY SOUL TO TAKE is perhaps less graphically shocking than LAST RITUALS, yet just as disturbing --- if not more so.   This reader would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite between the two.  Rather than choose, MY SOUL TO TAKE  along with her fist novel marks Yrsa Sigurdardóttir a new writer to add to my list of must read, top suspense authors writing today. 

MY SOUL TO TAKE is an awesome thriller that continues to haunt long after the last page.  The crimes seen from the point of view of the victims give the reader a glimpse into the twisted face of evil as one sees through the perspective of the very human victims.  As the clues unfold, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir paints an ominous emotional landscape, drawing the reader into the very heart of the crime.   As Thóra unlocks each strand of the web connecting past and present, the power of history takes on more importance, magnifying the scope of past horrific deeds.   Attorney and divorced mother Thóra Gudmundsdóttir adds a richness to this work of suspense beyond just the crime itself.  Her feet-on-the ground approach to the crime heightens the suspense while also allowing a bit of humor as relief from the shocking crimes.  The unfolding story of her sometimes mundane family conflicts provides a stark contrast to the family history she researchs.  MY SOUL TO TAKE creates a startling portrayal of evil past and present.  A superb, satisfying ending completes this chilling work of suspense.  This reader is most anxious for the release of the author's next novel.  Brava! 

Publisher: William Morrow (April  2009)
Translators: Bernard Scudder, Anna Yates
Previous Thora Gudmundsdottir book: Last Rituals

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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