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Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Published: 22 October 2015
Reviewed: 7 September 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Hodder and Stoughton in return for an honest review

 

Description:

The light spilling in from the corridor would have to do. Though weak, it was sufficient to show Aldís a boy sitting in the gloom at the furthest table. He had his back to her, so she couldn’t see who it was, but could tell that he was one of the youngest. A chill ran down her spine when he spoke again, without turning, as if he had eyes in the back of his head. ‘Go away. Leave me alone.’

‘Come on. You shouldn’t be here.’ Aldís spoke gently, fairly sure now that the boy must be delirious. Confused, rather than dangerous.

He turned, slowly and deliberately, and she glimpsed black eyes in a pale face. ‘I wasn’t talking to you.’

Aldis is working in a juvenile detention centre in rural Iceland. She witnesses something deeply disturbing in the middle of the night; soon afterwards, two of the boys at the centre are dead.

Decades later, single father Odinn is looking into alleged abuse at the centre following the unexplained death of the colleague who was previously running the investigation. The more he finds out, though, the more it seems the odd events of the 1970s are linked to the accident that killed his ex-wife. Was her death something more sinister?

My Thoughts & Review:

The Undesired is the first book by this author that I have read, I went in to it not knowing what to expect.

The story in this book begins with an ending of sorts, a man and his young daughter are trapped in a car slowly asphyxiating.  By doing this, the author has ensured that the audience are captive, instantly hooked by wondering who these people are, why there are there, what has lead to this monumental moment.  There are two strands of story in this book, the first following Odinn and the second following Aldis.

Following the death of his ex-wife, Odinn, now a single parent grapples with raising his daughter alone.  She is traumatised by the death of her mother and he struggles to support her.    Was her death accidental?  Why is she haunting Odinn and his daughter?
This is not all that Odinn has to contend with, he has taken over  investigations at work into alleged abuse at a care home for male young offenders, a home that shut down in the 1970s but certain questions remain unanswered.

Back in 1974 Aldi was a cleaner at the care home for the delinquent boys, she provides an eyewitness account of the happenings at the home.   Her relationship with one of the older boys and the the owner’s of the home having deep secrets really add an extra layer to the back story.
Weaving together Odinn’s investigation and the lead up to the closure of the home following the death of two boys, the author provides answers for the questions the reader has from the beginning of the book.

Characterisation is great, the details about the home feel authentic .  The plot is intriguing,  but I wonder if it might work better if billed as a psychological thriller as opposed to horror which the blurb implies.  Overall a good read, but I just felt that the “spooky” aspects took something away from the story.

You can buy a copy of The Undesired here.

 

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