Review: Yrsa Sigurðardóttir – I Remember You

YS bookI’ve got a penchant for ghost stories although I can’t read too many of them in one go. There are some excellent writers out there producing good quality supernatural thrillers and one of my current favourites is  F G Cottam who writes genuinely scary stories. I was interested to see that Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s latest book was a supernatural thriller set in a remove fjord community, and with the wind howling at my Peak District door, I set aside an evening to read I Remember You.

Three friends, Gardar, Katrin and Lif, buy a house in remote Icelandic community that is inhabited only in the summer. They arrive in the village to do some renovations on the house, but the boatman, concerned for their welfare urges them to keep their mobile phones charged. The friends soon begin to see a young boy who disappears when they try to follow him. Meanwhile, in a town across the fjord, Freyr, a psychiatric doctor is rebuilding his life following the disappearance of his young son and his subsequent divorce from the child’s mother. When an elderly woman dies in the town, he discovers that she was obsessed with his son’s disappearance and his ex-wife is convinced that their son is dead and trying to communicate with them.

The two strands of this novel remain separate for a long time and both have a strong supernatural element. The book is written very much in the conventions of the genre. In the remote village we have an old house with a dubious history and rumours of strange goings on, there are three friends whose apparent affability hide some underlying tensions. And most importantly we have the unexplained occurrences so intrinsic to a ghost story – fleeting figures seen, unexplained accidents and breakdown of modern technology that would allow the three friends to communicate with the outside world.

Sigurðardóttir’s crime fiction background is more apparent in the narrative of Freyr. It is clear that he feels the weight of guilt in relation to the disappearance of his son and the reasons for this are gradually revealed. We are also drawn into the police investigation that still continues into the boy’s disappearance. It is always clear that something catastrophic has happened so the resolution when it comes isn’t too much of a shock.

The ending of the book is done very well, with no sense of a let-down that you sometimes get with a novel of this length. It’s not perhaps at the cutting edge of supernatural stories; it reminded me a little of the books I read as a teenager, such as Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black but it was an enjoyable, substantial read. And perfect for a winter’s evening.

I received my copy of the book from the publishers. Another review can be found at Eurocrime,