Sigrun’s Secret

Written by Marie-Louise Jensen

Sigrun’s Secret is a good read, particularly suitable for 12+ girls. Set in the Viking era, it focuses closely on the life of one Icelandic girl as she matures. Her story is told in the first person, and whilst several of her experiences in the 9th century will be strange to most readers, the writer carefully uses familiar emotions and situations to engage our sympathies. Thus Sigrun is embarrassed at public speaking, diffident about her own abilities – as a healer – and has rather a soft spot for horses.

Period details occur as part of the action and there are some particularly deft touches, such as the young Icelander’s reaction to large trees. The darker aspects of Viking life, such as slavery and violence are sensitively handled. Sigrun is depicted as lively and courageous with a tendency to be impetuous that is easy to empathise with. She matures through the book, dealing with distressing family secrets, exile to Jorvik and bitter feuds. Her romance with Ingvar is delicately portrayed, and the characterisation of her reckless brother, Asgrim, is well-delineated and credible.

The plot moves along briskly and there is a pleasing resolution with our heroine as prime mover. Satisfying and well-told, it is let down by an uninspired cover.