BookBin2014: I Remember You: A Ghost Story

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Some of you might remember that back in May I did a month-long celebration of some of my favorite Ladies of Horror May-hem. One of my selections was Eli from the Swedish vampire tale Let the Right One In. In that post, I mentioned that the movie was based on a book by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

During my last trip to the library, I tried to find this (or any) book by Lindqvist. Unfortunately, he apparently isn’t a big enough deal to make it onto our library system’s radar. However, instead of finding a Swedish vampire story, I ended up finding an Icelandic ghost story. Sure, why not?

And so I ended up reading Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s novel I Remember You: A Ghost Story. True to the subtitle, it most assuredly is a ghost story…actually, it’s two ghost stories that run parallel to each other while each revealing in small doses how they will inevitably join into one conclusion.

This is another fine example of an author with exquisite planning abilities. Like Rowling, Sigurðardóttir has enviable skills when it comes to mapping out the precise route of each one of her characters, living or dead or somewhere in between. With storytelling, as with life, however, there can be too much planning. I believe that this became the case toward the end of this novel.

It wasn’t until the revelation of one of the connections between the two stories that I was suspecting (but hoping wouldn’t be the case) that I began thinking that Sigurðardóttir had overthought things a bit. I don’t necessarily mind stories about seemingly unconnected events that, surprise, suddenly do connect (even though I do feel as though the idea has become somewhat overused in recent years). However, I do balk a bit when the connections feel tenuous and forced. This one particular connection felt incredibly forced to me, and definitely tamped down my enthusiasm for the story. It was such a small thing…so small, in fact, that it was unnecessary. I wish that Sigurðardóttir hadn’t included it at all. Deleting this one connection wouldn’t have changed the story at all, in fact, and would have, IMHO, made the inevitable overlap of the stories into one far more satisfying.

I wish I could tell you more…but spoilers.

Otherwise, Sigurðardóttir spun an elegantly eerie tale that gave me a satisfactory number of creeped-out moments (nothing quite like reading a ghost story late at night with nothing but a book light and shadows to keep you company). I felt sufficiently American each time I tried to figure out how to pronounce Icelandic names and locations (I’m almost 100 percent positive that the only one I came even close to getting correct was Reykjavik), but even my linguistic ineptitude was part of the fun of reading this tale.

Final Verdict: I enjoyed my introduction to Sigurðardóttir enough that I will try to find some of her other books on my next library trip. However, I don’t feel the need to add this book to my own library.