Reading Iceland: Four Fantastic Novels from the Land of Fire and Ice

Icelandic books contemporary novelsI am very pleased to host the lovely Amy Lord on Daily Pinner. I have been following Amy and her blog Ten Penny Dreams for a while, enjoying especially her writing style and the grace she uses to describe the world that surrounds her. 
In this guest post Amy talks about two of her passions, Iceland and novels. She has put them together introducing us four of her favourite novels set in the beautiful Iceland. 
Thank you Amy!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been in love with Iceland. There’s something about the drama of the landscape that captures my imagination.
It’s known as the home of the sagas, but Iceland is also the setting for some fantastic contemporary novels. Here are four of my favourites.

Tainted Blood (also known as Jar City), by Arnaldur Indridason
The first in the long running series of crime thrillers featuring Detective Erlendur, Tainted Blood explores themes of genetics and family secrets.
After a man is brutally killed in his home, there are few clues except for a bizarre note and photograph left with the body. Erlendur soon discovers that the victim had a dark past and must find out if it contributed to his death.
One of Iceland’s best known authors, Indridason is often listed along with some of the most notable Scandinavian crime writers and has twice won the Glass Key Award, which celebrates the best in Nordic crime fiction.

Last Rituals, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir
When lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir is hired to look into the ritualistic killing of a university student after his family are dissatisfied with the results of the police investigation, she is plunged into the world of witchcraft and torture.
This novel manages to successfully combine the darker elements of crime fiction with everyday domestic life, much like the work of Camilla Lackberg.

The Fish Can Sing, by Halldor Laxness
The story of a young orphaned boy who questions his future as a fisherman after becoming fascinated by an Icelandic singer.
Halldor Laxness is one of Iceland’s most celebrated writers and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955. As well as his novels, he is known for his work in theatre and writing poetry, travelogues, short stories and newspaper articles. His books are often considered a reflection of the quirky Icelandic personality.

Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
The only one of my four choices not to be written by an Icelander, Burial Rites tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be executed for murder in Iceland. After spending a year as an exchange student in the village of Sauðárkrókur, the Australian author’s imagination was captured by the story of Agnes and she decided to write her own version, giving the convicted woman the voice that she has been denied by history.
This is a beautifully written novel that explores the idea of isolation, both through the characters and the dramatic and bleak landscape of Iceland in winter.

You can read my full review of the novels on my Ten Penny Dreams Blog.
All four of these books capture something that is unique to Iceland, whether it’s the spirit of the people or the barren beauty of the landscape.

Amy Lord BloggerAmy Lord is an aspiring writer from the North East of England who runs literary lifestyle blog Ten Penny Dreams. It features articles on books, writing, inspiration, geekery, North East culture and life in general. Ten Penny Dreams aims to promote creativity and find passion, humour and meaning in all things cultural, all the while dreaming about capturing that perfect moment on the page.
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