THE UNDESIRED A very cold case
released OUT NOW! 353 pages | Hardback/ebook
Author Yrsa sigurdardottir
Publisher Hodder & stoughton
As a relatively isolated country with a population of only about 320,000, Iceland could be the world’s biggest small town. Everyone knows everyone, and has done for yonks. It makes a fascinating study for genealogists – and a terrifyingly claustrophobic setting for a horror novel, because when something horrible happens, everyone’s affected.
There are two stories in The Undesired, but, appropriately, they’re linked. In the first, a runaway in the ’70s finds a job at a juvenile detention centre where the sadistic owners scare the staff as much as the boys. In the second, a government employee investigates wrongdoing at the now-closed facility while struggling to relate to his pre-teen daughter after his ex-wife’s untimely death.
Both stories feature unwanted kids and mysterious deaths, and both also contain moments of shocking darkness. Anyone hoping for a proper scare will be let down, though, because once the connection between past and present is revealed, it all becomes depressingly mundane. A bit like delving into your family tree hoping to find you’re related to royalty, only to discover you’re actually the third cousin twice-removed of your least favourite co-worker. Disappointing. Sarah Dobbs
The book’s original Icelandic title was Kuldi, which means “cold.” Doesn’t really tell you much, does it?