I am delighted to be sharing my review for Kin by Snorri Kristjansson. Kin is the first book in the Helga Finnsdottir Mystery series. It is a historical fiction and mystery read that is absolutely fabulous.
So let’s have a look at the synopsis and see what it is all about…
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 . . .
It is the summer of 970, the grown up children of Viking Warlord Unthor Reginsson and his wife Hildigunnur re due to visit. Karl, Aslak and Bjorn are the siblings and along with their respective spouses there is a tension surrounding the visit. Helga is the foster daughter of Unthor and Hildigunnur, she is curious to meet the her siblings. Unlike the rest of the family, Helga is a quiet girl, she is clever, mysterious and is the main protagonist.
Oh! I loved this book such a huge amount. The first half is setting the scene and is more historical fiction, this I adored so much and would have quite happily read more about this era in history. When I think Vikings it’s always the raids first and farmers second. This book falls into the second, Unthor is a farmer and family man, though he does have a more serious presence and strength to him when the need arises.
There are quite a few characters to get to know and in all honesty it didn’t take long. The characters who live on the farm were introduced first, then the siblings as they arrived. It was the ideal way to get to grips with everyone and start to form initial thoughts as to whether I would like them or not… Helga I really did like and also the enigmatic matriarch Hildigunnur who is such a strong and impressive character.
Though by far Helga was the star, she is one of those characters that see’s all and keeps it to herself. She tends to be overlooked and blends into the background, she is a people watcher and is able to pick up on the various tells people have in the behaviours, mannerism and during conversations. This stands her good stead as the story then progresses into the mystery section of the story.
The mystery section is the observations and deductions of Helga as she finds herself trying to work out the culprit. She uses her observations to gradually piece everything together. Given the time this novel is set in, the investigative process is very quiet and a nice change to read something that does not include technology. It is investigating at it’s very basic level, about reading people and situations, looking at every aspect of the scene and trying to think of the right questions to ask as much as discovering the answers.
I really enjoyed this book so much, the author provided a good amount of background to this very dynamic family. Yes a slower paced story to begin with but one that that speeded up as the urgency to find the killer increased. It was a book I found myself having to slow down the speed I read, I didn’t want to miss a single word and at times it was almost unbearable as I was so eager to turn the page and see what was going to happen next.
I liked the so much about this book, the characters, the setting, the history, the mystery and then there were the italicised sentences, call them Helga’s conscience if you like, they were her random thoughts as she was mulling over the information she was collecting. As well as really liking them they also infuriated me… in a good way… as they provided more questions than answers, they left odd thoughts from Helga hanging, a good addition by the author to add more intrigue.
In case you had not already guessed it… I Love This Book! It slotted so nicely into 2 genres that I love reading – Historical Fiction & Crime/Mystery. The slower pace fitted the histfic wonderfully well and especially the year of 970. As the pace increased, it it was more suited to the crime and mystery of the book. This is a series I am looking forward to reading more of.
It is one I would Highly Recommend.
Snorri Kristjansson was born in Reykjavik in 1974. He has since lived in Norway, where he found a passionate aversion to skiing, London and now Edinburgh with his wife, where he dabbles in classical acting and stand-up comedy while teaching English.
His fantasy series, The Valhalla Saga, and his crime series, Kin and Council, are published by Jo Fletcher Books. They both have Vikings in, so expect moderate cursing and beards.
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