Saturday, October 7, 2017

THE DEVIL'S WEDDING RING BY VIDAR SUNDSTØL - BOOK REVIEW

I wasn't too sure about this one at first... it sounded like a creepy Fall read that dealt with some strange, cultish sort of stuff. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, it really picked up toward the end.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Devil's Wedding Ring by Vidar Sundstøl. Thanks so much to the University of Minnesota Press for sending me an ARC of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.



The story follows the death of Knut Abrahamsen, old friend and colleague of policeman turned private investigator Max Fjellanger. Max is sure that Knut didn't commit suicide, and if he did, why did he do it the way he did? Things aren't adding up in Max's investigation and he is soon drawn into the investigation of a man who disappeared years ago when Max was still on the force and more recently the disappearance of a local college girl. Both were interested in the ancient worship of a wooden statue of a saint used in folklore. Together with the help of the local librarian, Max begins to realize that this ancient worship may not be as ancient and unpracticed as they once thought.

The writing style of the book was a little tricky to get into at first. I usually have issues getting used to translated books but once I got used to Sundstøl's bare-bones writing style, I was able to get into the story quite quickly. At first, the writing style felt a little choppy and disjointed but it really just made for a no-nonsense storyline. There were few frills and flowery writing that made for a gritty, real crime novel.

Plot-wise, I found the story quite interesting. Everything and everyone seemed to be related somehow, we just didn't find out how until the end. I really enjoyed the additions of folklore and ancient stories, even though I am not really familiar with these ones from Norway, I still found them interesting. Sundstøl does a great job of explaining them to the reader who is likely unfamiliar with the story and I found that I was wanting to do some research to see if this sort of thing really exists.

I liked how Sundstøl wove everything together, I think it was quite well done. There were a lot of loose ends and I wasn't sure if he could pull it off. Luckily, they were tied up quite nicely, if perhaps a little too nicely. Sometimes I like my crime thrillers with a bit more ambiguity but I can appreciate a succinct ending.

There were some things that I saw as a little less realistic, some of the rituals they performed seemed a little exaggerated and some background details about a few of the characters seemed to be a little to carefully placed to be more than just a plot point. Without knowing much about the full history of the folklore, it's hard for me to say what is and isn't realistic, but I suppose I could say that some elements seemed a bit unnecessary. There were a few times when the story got a bit too sex-obsessed, and things felt like they were mainly added for shock value.

I appreciate that this story is a standalone and doesn't drag on for multiple books but I wonder if maybe it should have been a little longer? The ending seemed a little bit rushed and I think it could have stood a bit more.

Overall, a solid story dealing with some ancient folklore and a decent crime novel.