Updated: Aug 25, 2020
A novel by Bjørn Larssen
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
Rating 4 out of 5 stars
What is it about?
The story begins with recluse blacksmith, Gunnar, in a tiny and remote village in Iceland in the 1920s. After Sigurd, an injured and mysterious stranger, appears the novel diverts into two tales: Gunnar’s day-to-day life in his local village, fending off an insistent admirer and Sigurd’s imaginative tale of young love, brotherly discord and mind-numbing betrayal.
Gunnar’s battle with alcoholism is explored at its rawest level – it is powerful, emotional and ever present. Larssen’s ability to paint Sigurd in a particular light, only to reveal his complexities as the story unfolds is well done. Even the most well-meaning of folks in the village soon have their human foibles exposed in this steady tale of intrigue and deceit.
It was a little difficult picturing the characters based on their descriptions and it was left up to my own imagination to create my own images, but the character’s personalities are presented strongly through their dialogue and actions.
It is clear from the language construct that English is not Larssen’s first language. At first it felt rather clunky to me, but as I read on and was immersed in this frozen tundra of Iceland’s village life in the early 20th century, the cadence of the language soon lent itself to the ethnicity and voice of the story, making it a good fit.
The imagery and description were quite sparse but were absolutely adequate to give me a sense of the huts, countryside, villages, towns and weather of rural Iceland.
The un-hurried pace of this novel was like being in a rustic Icelandic hut, in the dead of an icy winter, before a crackling fire, with a storyteller stretching out his tale to while away the hours of darkness. Despite the two cleverly intertwined plots unfolding with an exquisitely languorous pace, there were plenty of twists and revelations at the end that left me gasping out loud.
Storytellers is unlike anything I’ve ever read before but it was refreshingly unique. So, if you like a cleverly constructed, slow-burn tale of manipulation and treachery, without a whole load of frantic action, then this is the book for you.
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