Published by: Michael Jospeh
Intensely satisfying, a story rich in plot, characters like the landscape shrouded in mystery
Una is struggling to deal with her father’s sudden, tragic suicide. She spends her nights drinking alone in Reykjavik, stricken with thoughts that she might one day follow in his footsteps.
So when she sees an advert seeking a teacher for two girls in the tiny village of Skálar – population of ten – on the storm-battered north coast of the island, she sees it as a chance to escape.
But once she arrives, Una quickly realises nothing in city life has prepared her for this. The villagers are unfriendly. The weather is bleak. And, from the creaky attic bedroom of the old house where she’s living, she’s convinced she hears the ghostly sound of singing.
Una worries that she’s losing her mind. And then, just before Christmas, there’s a murder…
First of all any thanks to the publisher for a proof copy.
What you have in essence is a stunning piece of writing, the plotting is meticulous, the narrative sublime.
When I set out reading, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of what direction the writing would take me, however, having read the authors previous novels, I knew I was in for a cracking read which wouldn’t disappoint.
It is difficult to say too much without giving any spoilers and that would be to the detriment of the reader, however, the cast of characters we are introduced to is quite small as befits the location, as the village is a close knit community you never quite know where you stand with each, each seemingly carrying secrets they don’t want outsiders to know about. You can though relate to each, as they come fully rounded on the pages.
One element which often gets overlooked but in some ways is pivotal to the story is location, here the remote setting of the book, In Skalar you get a real sense of place , oozing atmosphere, shrouded in mystery the darkness and bleakness are beautifully drawn out, a total sense of foreboding brought to life on the page.
The story flows wonderfully and moves at a pace befitting the setting, the ending is as dramatic as the scenery. You can feel the drama ratchet up with each turn of the page, the tensions screams at you, you can’t help but turn the pages such is the need to know where the author is going to take you, mystery and intrigue abound. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes, expect the unexpected.
There is a somewhat chilling element of the supernatural about the book which adds another dimension, full on suspense, if this was a film, you would have one eye closed not knowing what to expect.
I couldn’t help but feel a sense of watching the Wicker Man as I got further in to the book with the same heightened fear and anticipation
Ragnar Jonasson has over the years become a firm favourite for the suspenseful character driven mystery
You may get the feeling that I really enjoyed this book, definitely a highlight for 2021. Nordic Noir at its finest, highly recommend for those who like a great mystery with a narrative that will give you chills