The Reckoning

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Poor little Vaka is waiting in vain, after school, for her father to pick her up.  Just when the cold really begins to bother her she sees a girl she recognizes from her class.  Vaka asks the girl if she can go to her house to call her father.  This is the last time Vaka is seen by anyone.  Detective Huldar and child psychologist Freyja are called in.  
There are some very interesting twists and turns to this story making it a very entertaining and intriguing read.  The characters are realistic and I look forward to reading the next installment in this series.  Strongly recommend.  

Thank you to Netgalley, the author Yrsa Sigurdardottir and the publisher St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read this excellent book.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars

Yrsa Sigurdardóttir delivers another superb, edge-of-your seat dark thriller with tinges of horror sure to keep you up at night.

THE RECKONING—the second installment in the Children’s House series following THE LEGACY, picks right back up with the now demoted Huldar. He’s investigating a 2016 letter found in a time capsule that predicts the deaths of six people denoted only by initials. It’s probably nothing—nonsensical writings of an angry kid—but Huldar consults with child psychologist Freya, who he’s worked with (and spent the night with) before.

But as fate would have it, it does mean something. Severed limbs are discovered, threatening emails are showing up, and soon a man is killed. Ties to the letter begin to tighten as a horrific case takes shape, with the certainty that more deaths will follow.

Sigurdardóttir tackles multiple themes in this novel. First, she probes the lasting effects of trauma, and how anger and helplessness can morph into something altogether darker. The story opens with a young girl, Vaka, who waits to be picked up from school. Her father is late and so she decides to use the phone of a classmate who lives nearby. Vaka is never seen again.

We also see Sigurdardóttir take on a government who time and again fails to believe and protect children who seek help. What does that do to a child? How does it shape who they are? Who they will be? And what should become of those in power who fail them year after year?

What is so brilliant about Yrsa Sigurdardóttir’s storytelling is that she’s able to balance horrible, dark deeds unflinchingly, with profound moments/messages that serve as emotional underpinnings to her work. In addition, with threads of romance, there’s a sense that everything is thoughtfully crafted and paced with never a dull moment. And to make it all the more impressive, her characters are nuanced, flawed and intriguing.

I can’t wait to read more in this series and from this author. With proven work that’s all at once chilling and compelling, gritty and emotional, atmospheric and fast paced, she’s a must-read author who continues to get better and better.
Was this review helpful?
Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a master of dark suspense, and this new book, part of the Children’s House series, is yet another example of her ability to weave complex tales that are full of multi-layered characters with dark pasts. 

Note: This is the second book in a series, but can be read as a standalone. I had no problems on that front. 

The story starts out with a young girl, named Vaka, waiting for her parents to pick her up after school. When she goes to a classmate’s house to use her phone, she doesn’t come out. In the present day, a series of gruesome deaths ties in with a supposedly inconsequential assignment by demoted cop Huldar, he begins to think that many more people could die if things aren’t handled quickly. The problem is, no one seems to want to talk about what’s going on. 

This book was very good because it was nearly impossible to put all the pieces together until Sigurdardottir wanted you to. The characters are all intricately weaved together in some ways, but their stories are really hidden under the complex layers of their stories. It made for great reading because it was hard to tell who the “bad guy” was. And in this book, there are plenty of “bad guys” to go around, so things aren’t always black and white.

I also really liked Huldar and Freyja, both together and as individuals. They are flawed and relatable, who are both dying to navigate their personal lives as well as professional complications, like demotions and bureaucratic systems that won’t let them do whatever they want. (Though Huldar has a very satisfying scene in the end along those lines!).

I love Sigurdardottir’s great contributions to the Nordic thriller genre - they seem to strike the perfect dark and creepy tones that we’ve come to expect from the great thriller writers of the north. If you like tightly plotted thrillers with plenty of suspense, this book will be a slam dunk for you.
Was this review helpful?
The Reckoning is my first Yrsa Sigurdardóttir book. Even though it is the 2nd book in her "Children’s House series", it can be read as a standalone. As, soon as I finished it I wanted to dive into The Legacy! The story is a very well written mystery that had me on the edge of my seat! I did feel it moved a bit slowly but the ending punches you right in the gut! Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Vaka Orradottir's father is late picking up the eight year old from her new school. As she waits outside, her classmate Sigrun, who lives nearby, sees her. Vaka asks to go and use the phone at her house, to call her parents. Sigrun reluctantly agrees. 
Vaka is not seen alive again.
Twelve years later, Jon Jonsson, Sigrud's father, is about to be released from prison. Serving time for the rape and murder of Vaka, eligible now for parole, as Iceland doesn't execute or imprison criminals for life.
Meanwhile, Detective Huldar begins working a case about a threatening, unsigned letter left in a time capsule ten years ago at Vaka's school. It predicts the deaths of six people, by their initials only. He consults child psychologist Freyja about the contents. 
Soon body parts begin appearing in strange places. Hands in a hot tub, feet in a garden...
Huldar and Freyja face opposition as they believe these incidents are all connected to Vaka's murder so long ago.
A dark and disturbing Nordic police procedural with some shocking moments. This one was a little slow for me, but Huldar and Freyja are appealing characters and I liked their prickly relationship. 
The second in a series, it works as a stand alone, but I might have liked it better with more of the background from the first. 
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the free ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is the second book in a series and though I have not read the first one, I felt this one worked very well as a stand-alone book.  The characters are interesting, the plot is well-paced, and the mystery is intriguing.  A good Scandinavian mystery!
Was this review helpful?
THE RECKONING
Yrsa Sigurdardottir; translated by Victoria Cribb
Minotaur Books
ISBN 978-1-250-13628-2
Hardcover
Mystery

I don’t know why, but I made a significant error of omission by not reading THE LEGACY, the first installment in what Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s new Children’s House series. Mea culpa. I was and am familiar with Sigurdardottir’s other work, but somehow THE LEGACY got past me. I will correct that mistake after I tell you a bit about THE RECKONING, the sophomore volume in the series. It has everything you want in a police procedural --- strong, memorable characters, a puzzling mystery, and bizarre murders --- with all of it served up perfectly.

The Children’s House after which the series is named is a counseling service in Reykjavik for abused and troubled children. Freyja, one of the two protagonists in the series, is employed as a child psychologist there, somewhat to her dissatisfaction. The other primary character is Huldar, a Reykjavik police detective.  Sigurdardottir (with the fine assistance of Victoria Cribb on translation to English) deftly notes for those coming aboard for the first time that in the first volume on the series Huldar and Freyja worked on a case together which was successfully solved but which resulted in both of them being demoted from supervisory positions. Huldar is more than satisfied with being a worker bee but such a career status does not suit Freyja. They were also transitory lovers, a situation which did not last long. Huldar still carries a torch while Freyja protests a bit too much in denying the flicker that still occasionally burns. Their paths cross again in THE RECKONING when a ten-year-old time capsule place by a group of high school students is unearthed. An anonymous letter apparently written by one of the students appears to threaten the lives of ten individuals who are identified only by their initials. Huldar is assigned to investigate matters, a task which he considers to be busy work. He becomes busy indeed, however, when a set of detached hands are discovered in a homeowner’s garden. When the homeowner himself is later murdered --- with his initials matching one of the individuals mentioned in the time capsule letter --- it appears that whoever wrote the letter to their future self is taking things seriously. Huldar ascertains the author of the letter, who in turn is tenuously connected to the rape and murder of a child which occurred several years before. 
Freyja is brought in as a consultant when it develops that the House, and one of its employees, is connected to the letter writer as well. Huldar jumps from one evidentiary ice flow to another as evidence of what has occurred in that past has seemingly vanished by design, hampering his ability to get to the truth. He of course is also trying when he can to get back with Freyja, but that relationship seems all but doomed. Or is it? THE RECKONING concludes satisfactorily if not neatly, but the question of what, if anything, will happen between Huldar and Freyja is left for another day. 

THE RECKONING makes for satisfying and addicting reading. The believable odd-couple matchup of Huldar and Freyja is neither cloying nor precious, a fine line for an author to walk and one which Sigurdardottir does very well. The mortar of THE RECKONING, however, is the mystery with its seeds in the past and gruesome blossoming in the present. There is some grim humor presented to counterpoint the nastiness of the crimes committed, with both elements well-paced and harrowing by turns right up to the final pages. You can start with THE RECKONING but you will want to seek out THE LEGACY once you’re finished, just as I am about to do. Strongly recommended. 

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub 
© Copyright 2019, The Book Report, Inc. All rights reserved.
Was this review helpful?
I love me a good atmospheric detective drama and this was no exception. I love that the country plays such a role in his books almost like another person. 
The plot was well paced a.nd interesting. 
I really like this one. 
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for letting me review this book
Was this review helpful?
Yrsa Sigurdardóttir's "The Reckoning," translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb, is a complex and chilling tale of child abuse, corruption, and murder.  Huldar, a detective who fell from grace after botching a high-profile inquiry, feels responsible for the fact that Freyja, a woman he cares for, was removed from her post as director the of Children's House. This is a social service agency that helps traumatized youngsters.  Freyja is a child psychologist whom Huldar frequently calls upon for her insight into the wide range of human behavior that he encounters.

Huldar is assigned to look into a threatening letter written by an unnamed fourteen-year old ten years earlier.  In it, the writer alluded to six murders that he predicted would occur in 2016, the year during which most of the action is set.  Soon, body parts and corpses start cropping up in various locales, but no one knows the perpetrator's identity or motive. Huldar's tough boss, Erla, begrudgingly allows him to take part in the homicide investigation. Another issue is the fury that erupts when Jón Jónsson, who was convicted for assaulting and killing an eight-year-old girl in 2004, is freed from prison after serving a little more than a decade behind bars.  Once again, Huldar asks Freyja to assist him with a tragic case that exposes the imperfections in Iceland's criminal justice system.

The flawed hero chain smokes, drinks too much, and is riddled with anxiety.  In a moment of weakness and abject stupidity, he commits a blunder that he immediately regrets.  The characters, with some notable exceptions, range from unlikeable to downright obnoxious.  Among their odious traits are arrogance, ruthlessness, selfishness, and a craving for retribution.  Although there are humorous and satirical passages that relieve the dour tone, there is an excess of gore, too many scenes about the emotional and physical harm inflicted on young people, and a bleak conclusion that is unlikely to lift your spirits.  "The Reckoning" is engrossing and suspenseful, but its over-the-top plot requires a huge suspension of disbelief. Moreover, it is a harrowing to read about the horrific consequences of unbridled hatred and malevolence. We encounter too many wretched souls who could have profited from intensive psychiatric help. In some cases, however, it is unlikely that even the most skilled practitioner could have mended their fractured lives.
Was this review helpful?
Vaka sits alone on the cold steps of her school. No one has come to pick her up and the school doors have long since locked behind her. Her mind is racing with possibilities of what will happen to her if her father doesn’t show up soon. When a girl from class approaches her, Vaka can feel a wave of unease pass through her body. Sigrun has an unusual appearance and is known for keeping to herself. She lives just beyond the back of the school and offers her house phone to Vaka to call her parents in exchange for a possibility of friendship. As Vaka passes through the doors of Sigrun’s house she walks into a cold fate. This is the last afternoon Vaka will ever be seen alive.

Detective Huldar and Children’s House psychologist, Freyja, are both feeling the wrath of their mistakes in a recent case. Huldar has been stripped of his departmental leadership role and assigned to work a case about a letter found in a time capsule from a local school. The letter appears to be a list of targets. A list of people a young child wanted dead. Calling on Freyja to glean some insight into the letter, the duo soon find themselves surrounded by body parts and missing people. Everything is leading back to what happened to Vaka so many years ago.

THE RECKONING is book two in Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Children’s House series and picks up shortly after where book one left readers. Detective Huldar and Children’s House psychologist, Freyja, are facing the consequences of the outcome of their previous case. They have both lost leadership roles from their jobs and have been assigned mundane cases to work on. Freyja is convinced they should never work together again, but when a new case falls into Huldar’s lap, he is soon on the phone calling in her assistance. Little do they both know, the case surrounding this letter will be one they will never forget.

Sigurdardottir does not shy away from gritty subject material or scenes within her books. THE RECKONING has quite a few scenes that will make you cringe, but I assure you that they benefit the case at hand and are written in a way that blends them seamlessly with the story. There is not gore for gore’s sake with Sigurdardottir. All of her plot threads serve a purpose and these particular scenes demonstrate not only the monstrous people that live in our society, but those who also choose to take revenge after something horrific has happened to them.

Much like this book’s predecessor, THE LEGACY, Sigurdardottir has given her readers another intricately woven story. There are several plot lines happening: the case of the letter, the release of Vaka’s killer, severed body parts popping up at seemingly random homes, and a family left broken by a murderer. While each of these storylines stands alone, they are all somehow connected, and it is that connecting revelation that drives the reader to flip through pages late into the night with THE RECKONING. 

How do I sum up my feelings about such a powerful book? Let’s go with: I had hunches, they were wrong. I had questions, they got answered. And that ending? I didn’t see it coming! 

If you haven’t yet picked up THE LEGACY, I highly recommend starting the series in order with that book. While THE RECKONING could potentially serve as a standalone, the benefit of reading in order will help the reader with background on the main characters of Huldar and Freyja.
Was this review helpful?
Yrsa Sigurdardottir is my favorite mystery writer and I have read every one of her books, translated into English from the Icelandic.  I read The Legacy before I read this book. The Reckoning is not a sequel as much as the second book in a series (I hope it’s an ongoing series!) featuring the two main characters, Huldur, a police detective, and Freyja, a child psychologist.  Their personal and working relationship started in The Legacy, but you don’t need to read the prior book to follow the story, as their past relationship is explained well.  This is such an interesting story, albeit very dark and complicated.  There is a lot going on but  through masterly writing, somehow it all becomes relevant and is all pulled together at the end.  I hope this series continues and we hear more from Freyja and Huldar.  Five stars.
Was this review helpful?
Huldar and Frejya are brought together again after both being humiliated and demoted after the scandal in the first book in this series. Huldar seems to be taking it in stride but Frejya is upset. They are thrown together again when a child's note from a time capsule predicts several murders. It is an excuse for Huldar to contact Frejya but then the murders start happening. Once again, the awkwardness of their relationship provides a balance to the wickedness of the crimes. I guess in Iceland if you are going to bother to kill someone, you are going to be senselessly brutal about it. Ms. Siguroardottir obviously has long-term character development planned for Huldar and Frejya and hasn't been inclined to rush it like many authors. Instead, we almost get 2 books: the evolution of their characters and a crazy mystery. I really enjoy her writing! I was only left with one question: when will the rest of this series be translated? I need more!
Was this review helpful?
I received a complimentary ARC copy The Reckoning (Children's House #2)
by Yrsa Sigurdardottir from NetGalley & St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir the Queen of Nordic noir does it again with the dark and intricately plotted follow up to the Legacy...



Yrsa Sigurdardottir has definitely earned the nickname "Queen of Nordic noir". True to form, Yrsa has produced yet another dark, clever, incredibly gruesome and deliciously deceptive Nordic noir novel. The Reckoning is the second book in the Children's House series. Although this book would work as a stand-alone reading the Legacy first just adds to the story.

When a local school opens a time capsule they discover a letter spewing anger, claiming revenge and containing a list composed of just initials of those who will meet their end in 2016.  When a gruesome discovery is made that appears to have a connection to the list an investigation is launched.  In this book we have disgraced detective Huldar biding his time hoping that the events that occurred in the previous installment will soon blow over. At the beginning of the book, he is at his all-time low and relegated to boring meaningless cases.  His former partner and shunned admirer Erla is now his boss which makes for definite tension and an interesting predicament. 

When the investigation heats up and the leads point to a past case involving a murdered child, Huldar turns Freyja at the Children's House for help.  Once connections are made involving the release of a former pedophile and murderer there is a manhunt and a race to find and save the next on the list. 
The book builds at a breakneck speed culminating in a shocking but fantastic ending. This is not recommended for those with a squeamish stomach, there are parts that are incredibly gruesome, although not bad enough for me to put down the book. The only downside for me in this book was although there is character development,  I wish there was a little bit more, especially between Freyja and Huldar, the relationship storylines fell a little flat for me. 

  All-in-all a fantastic book in a fantastic series, a must-read!
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review this book.

Since I enjoy Scandinavian mysteries and the books by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, I was excited to be able to read this book. This is a second book in a series, but that does not keep one from being engaged in the story, as enough background material is provided. When two investigations seem to point to a single act of violence from the past, the police seek outside help to try and understand who could be commiting these new crimes. As more people are murdered in gruesome ways, the investigation team becomes more desperate to solve the mystery.

Even though the characters seem to have the same characteristics as others from this genre, they are engaging and the plot twists in this story keeps the reader guessing as to who is committing the crimes.
Was this review helpful?
As the second book in a series, this can be read as a stand alone, but left me wanting to dive into the first book to see just exactly what I had missed.  The characters are well drawn and I’m looking forward to seeing were Sigurdardottir takes Huldar and Freyja’s relationship in the final book in the series.  A well written mystery set in Iceland, need I say more?
Was this review helpful?
This was my first novel by this author.  It is book two in the series, but worked as a stand-alone. Although, I do feel like I missed out on some of the backstory in book one.

Detective Huldar and a child psychologist named Freyja are trying to solve a case that involves a note that was found in a school’s time capsule. It is an interesting premise and a much darker plot than I usually read.  A few cringe-worthy scenes to be sure.

 I wasn't able to predict what would happen in the end.

I think fans of Scandinavian crime fiction would enjoy it.
Was this review helpful?
I know Yrsa Sigurðardóttir seemed to play one person against the next with the love life of of Huldar, Freyja, and Erla. Always playing with the womans fancy. But at the same time having a need for the role they play in life being the determining factor on how The Reckoning played out. The deaths of so many men seemed to be awfully hard to cope with, while all the initials of people that were in a letter that a 10 year old boy placed in a time-capsule. Each time they looked at the boy something would happen and they would find a new clue. Yrsa played with the relationships till they were played out and we need more information as to who did what? The murders were finally brought to light through their police work with Huldar being the one to get the people to open up. It's a really good story to let you feel the different feelings of the characters involved the action going on.
Was this review helpful?
Police procedural. Following the case of a young girl raped and murdered many strange and frightening things are happening when a list of people who will die in 2016 shows up in a time capsule. Well drawn characters by an outstanding author. Now I need to read the first book in this series, the Legacy! Thank you to Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
The Reckoning satisfies on almost all levels: a dark and cleverly twisted plot that moves at a fast pace and well developed characters. It falls just short of perfection in its setting. While the entire novel takes place in Iceland, as described the setting could have been any cold northern country. But this is just a nitpick about a book that satisfies on so many levels. I eagerly await the next entry in this series.
Was this review helpful?
As good if not better than The Legacy. Well worth the read and looking forward to more from this author!!
Was this review helpful?