Viking rites and tainted love – and Scandinavia’s deepest, darkest winter… Yule Island by Johana Gustawsson tr. David Warriner #bookreview #YuleIsland

Art expert Emma Lindahl is anxious when she’s asked to appraise the antiques and artefacts in the infamous manor house of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, on the island of Storholmen, where a young woman was murdered nine years earlier, her killer never found.
Emma must work alone, and the Gussman family apparently avoiding her, she sees virtually no one in the house. Do they have something to hide?
As she goes about her painstaking work and one shocking discovery yields clues that lead to another, Emma becomes determined to uncover the secrets of the house and its occupants.
When the lifeless body of another young woman is found in the icy waters surrounding the island, Detective Karl Rosén arrives to investigate, and memories of his failure to solve the first case come rushing back. Could this young woman’s tragic death somehow hold the key?
Battling her own demons, Emma joins forces with Karl to embark upon a chilling investigation, plunging them into horrifying secrets from the past – Viking rites and tainted love – and Scandinavia’s deepest, darkest winter…

❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

Hi and welcome to my review of Yule Island!

I had been waiting for Yule Island for ages (I’d spotted the French original on the author’s Instagram feed when it first came out and I’d been waiting for the English translation ever since) and boy, my expectations were sky-high by the time I finally held that gorgeous Orenda Books edition with the blue spredges in my hands! 

Johana Gustawsson is one of my favourite authors and she reconfirms that fact with every new book. And so, despite those ridiculously high expectations, I can only say she did it again, she captivated me from page 1 and had my head spinning by the final page.

Yule Island is that rather rare brand of crime thriller that I adore and seek out even more this time of year: gothic and atmospheric. The setting was absolutely marvellous, and I love that it’s a real island only a short boat ride away from the author’s home. Nothing more delightfully gothic than an old manor on such an isolated island, especially when there are rumours of ghosts. Safe to say Yule Island ticked all my boxes.

The less you know about the story itself, the better. Suffice it to say that the Queen of French Noir had absolutely pulled the wool over my eyes and I hadn’t noticed it AT ALL. She definitely had me trusting the wrong person(s), and after shouting (yes, really, out loud) WHAT?!, I read a particular page three times to take in what I’d missed so completely and to make sure I’d read it right. What a deliciously devious author Johana Gustawsson is! I don’t know why I’m this surprised after so many devious books, but I am! And I would love to tell you that was the only time she managed to trick me but no, it most certainly wasn’t. The second half of the book is chock-full of twists and reveals and me realising I had been assuming the wrong things all along. Man, she’s good!

Special shout-out to David Warriner, translator extraordinaire. If you didn’t know you were reading a translation, you could never tell. Thanks for another excellent job!

I could go on about this book until Christmas and every single thing I loved about it (i.e. literally everything) but I won’t. I’ll leave it at this: Yule Island is without a doubt one of my books of the year, highly recommended!

Yule Island is out now in digital formats and hardback. Order it directly from Orenda Books here.

Massive thanks to Orenda Books for eARC, but I managed to wait for my pre-ordered hardback to satisfy my inner magpie as well as the bookworm 😂

2 Responses

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *