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The Prey by Ysra Sigurdardottir

The Prey by Ysra Sigurdardottir

Icelandic author Ysra Sigurdardottir is best known in crime fiction circles for her series of procedurals featuring detective Thora Gudmundsdottir. The Prey has some crime and mystery elements but is essentially a horror story. Due to the structure of the book, the fate of many of the characters is known in advance so the story becomes more of a story of why and of crre rather than how.

The Prey tells its story in three threads. The first involves Joanna who is sent out on a search and rescue mission for two couples who went walking in the dangerous and freezing wilderness near the town of Höfn. She discovers a body, and later more bodies are recovered but the reason why the couples were there and how they died remains a mystery. Sigurdardottir then takes readers back a week to follow those couples and their guide on their ill-fated adventure into the wilderness. The third point of view is Hjorvar who works near Höfn and discovers not only that he had a younger sister that he cannot remember but that she died in the town.

With this set up, Sigurdardottir brings in some fairly standard creeping horror elements – disconnected ringing phones, strange voices, a little girl who has possibly made friends with a ghost, the feel of invisible icy fingers. On top of this she layers the very real horror of being trapped in the middle of a freezing, icy wilderness unprepared and with no way to contact help.

But for all of this foreboding and terror, the whole enterprise fails to fire. There is just too much going on and, in the end, once some of the action is finally explained, much of it only connects in a tangential way. So then what readers have is two different stories bolted together, neither of which really helps the other. The only real connection is a seemingly vengeful spirit which does not seem to care about who they effect as long as they are terrorising someone.

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The Prey by Ysra Sigurdardottir



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