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My Soul to Take Paperback – 29 Apr 2010

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My Soul to Take + Ashes to Dust (Thora Gudmundsdottir) + Last Rituals
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (29 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340920661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340920664
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Yrsa Sigurdardottir works as a civil engineer in Reykjavik. Her books for children have won prizes and great acclaim. Last Rituals is her first adult novel.

Product Description


The second book from Yrsa Sigurdardottir is funny as well as being a taut and accomplished novel (Independent, Books of the Year)

'Yrsa Sigurdardottir brilliantly conjures an atmosphere of creeping menace and unreality.' (Guardian)

This is well-written, pacey and wonderfully atmospheric, but the USP here is the character of Gudmundsdottir. Wry, very funny and valiantly trying to balance the demands of her private life with her work - she is a joy. I'm looking forward to number three. (Guardian)

Sigurdardotittir delivers terrific clammy atmosphere and frequent frissons of fear; she is entitled to join the front rank of Nordic crime writers. (The Times)

Both frightening and funny - a terrific trick if you can pull it off. (Observer)

Distinguished by superb evocations of extraordinary landscapes and . . . rivetingly gruesome inventiveness. (Independent)

The numerous twists and turns are worthy of Agatha Christie and keep the reader guessing until the very end. (Sunday Telegraph)

A suspenseful, sophisticated story (Sunday Telegraph)

A welcome second outing for the good-natured lawyer-sleuth Thora Gudmundsdottir . . . Yrsa Sigurdardottir's lightness of touch is refreshing (Daily Telegraph on MY SOUL TO TAKE)

The novel is both spooky and gruesome. But Thora's distinctly chaotic private life provides a welcome contrast and moments of very black humour . . . It's rare to find a crime novel that's both chilling and witty - an agreeable combination (Andrew Taylor, Spectator)

Dark, rich and satisfying. (Woman & Home)

Yrsa Sigurdardottir has arrived, fully formed, it seems, as something of a unique talent in the field . . . [She] matches Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs in the bloodchiller stakes. (Waterstone's Books Quarterly)

'Iceland is fast becoming a hotbed of fine crime writing, and Sigurdardottir is at the front of the pack. This second novel builds on her already impressive reputation . . . brilliantly paced and expertly constructed.' (The Big Issue)

More splendidly accomplished - and involving - fare from Sigurdardottir (Good Book Guide)

Book Description

'well-written, pacey and wonderfully atmospheric' - Guardian

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr Creepy on 23 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I suppose, being Icelandic, that it can be said the author comes from that school of Scandinavian writers who have blossomed in the world of crime writing in recent years. But she has a style which is her own, and should not be pigeonholed so simply. She is a writer of both children's books and crime fiction. This is her second crime novel, using her main character, lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir.
The story of My Soul to Take begins in 1945, and whatever happens in the present is influenced by those events. Thora finds herself contacted by an old friend and client called Jonas, who is setting up an holistic hotel on the site of two farms he has bought. He wants to know if he can get compensation for something not revealed at the sale - the fact that the site is haunted. Thora agrees to stay at the hotel to investigate, only to arrive just as the body of architect Birna is found on a remote beach. Before the police can begin to investigate closely, Thora searches Birna's room and finds her diary.
The background to the murder clearly goes back a generation to the two brothers who owned the two farms on the site, one of whom has a connection with Nazism. There is also the mysterious Kristin, who with the help of her German ex-police officer friend Matthew, Thora tries to track down. But soon there is another death, and a dynasty of politicians who want to be kept clean, and matters get more and more confused. Thora's investigation is not helped by the fact that her precocious young son runs off with his pregnant girlfriend. The life of the fictional detective rarely runs smoothly.
Yrsa's first book, Last Rituals, introduced the world to her lawyer and amateur detective Thora in a context of black magic and hocus-pocus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER on 31 May 2013
Format: Paperback
I read the latest novel by this author (translated), I Remember You, and was totally enthralled by it - it was fantastic. So I thought I would read more of her works. I've picked up the second of her novels (I'll go back and read the first, but have got myself very out of order now!), My Soul to Take.

In this story, Thóra Gudmundsdottir is asked by her client to see if she can arrange compensation on a property he has brought, because he is convinced it is haunted. But when she arrives at the health resort, it is to find a murder has been committed, and something in the past is being covered up. But by who? And why? And what could it all mean?

This is a great novel - a mystery with a great lead character; Thóra is a real character, and I bet she'd be great fun in real life. She has a really down-to-earth nature, but there is also wit and an emotional depth to her. She embarks on trying to solve this mystery with all her energies, and Matthew, her partner, is a great sidekick in this story. Seems to me there's a great future for these two; hopefully the series of books will continue. This is totally recommended.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Berengaria on 7 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
Yrsa was an accomplished author with a number of children's books under her belt before she branched into crime writing and dared to be compared to the new crop of Icelandic/Scandinavian authors, Indridason et al. Although engaging and literate enough herself in English, a second language for her when seen at Crime Writing festivals (she studied in Canada for a while) I felt immediately that I would enjoy her previous book LAST RITUALS but unfortunately I found the victim and the rest of the protagonists in it hard to sympathise with. Then the descriptions relating to the medieval historical background of witchcraft and rituals seemed overly long and unnecessary tedious, so that although it fulfilled the criteria of being quirky and extremely dark I thought the plot rather difficult to swallow, so I admit it was with trepidation I reached for her second helping, hoping I'd been mistaken.
Luckily MY SOUL TO TAKE was much easier to read and funnier too, devoid of too much padding, with the characters seeming much more normal, if only a little on the odd side, and the settings were more interesting in the remote Icelandic country/ seaside location where a new resort has been built and where petty jealousies and long held secrets hide. I doubted how she was going to take Matthew through a further story after Book #1 but she does it with ease.
I can now look forward to the 3rd.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ann Fairweather TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
I read and loved 'Last Rituals' so maybe my expectactions were too high for this one, but it did not grab me as the previous one. The opening is terrifying and leading to think we are in for a chilling journey. But soon we are taken instead to this 'new age' resort-hotel where we get to know some odd characters, including the hotel owner soon suspected of murdering the young female architect killed on the nearby beach. The lawyer-detective is his friend, so she agrees to stay and helps him clear his name. Then we get on this intricate, detailed saga into a complicated family inheritance and honestly at some point it rather lost me or I lost interest in the complex family links and past history. There is some further murder that tries hard to be horrifying but is not really. And overwhole I did not find the plot very interesting. What goes for this book is of course the great icelandic atmosphere and the quaintness of characters and settings, but is not quite enough to redeem its weakness. The German boyfriend is a very 'added-on' sidekick that does not in fact add anything genuine to the story but feels like a ploy to give the detective someone to talk to and to give her some colour throughout the story. Her own family problems also come on as totally unecessary and very superficial. Still it is a book I would not want to discourage anyone from reading, quite the opposite but one should not expect here the greatest crime story of the year !
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