Books set in the Icelandic landscape

The Blue Fox by SjónVictoria Cribb 

The year is 1883. The stark Icelandic winter landscape is the backdrop. We follow the priest, Skugga-Baldur, on his hunt for the enigmatic blue fox. From there we’re then transported to the world of the naturalist Friðrik B. Friðriksson and his charge, Abba, who suffers from Down’s syndrome, and who came to his rescue when he was on the verge of disaster. Then to a shipwreck off the Icelandic coast in the spring of 1868.

The fates of all these characters are intrinsically bound, and gradually, surprisingly, unravelled in this spellbinding fable that is part mystery, part fairy tale.

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea 


Rósa has always dreamed of living a simple life alongside her Mamma in their remote village in Iceland, where she prays to the Christian God aloud during the day, whispering enchantments to the old gods alone at night. But after her father dies abruptly and her Mamma becomes ill, Rósa marries herself off to a visiting trader in exchange for a dowry, despite rumors of mysterious circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death.

Rósa follows her new husband, Jón, across the treacherous countryside to his remote home near the sea. There Jón works the field during the day, expecting Rósa to maintain their house in his absence with the deference of a good Christian wife. What Rósa did not anticipate was the fierce loneliness she would feel in her new home, where Jón forbids her from interacting with the locals in the nearby settlement and barely speaks to her himself.

Seclusion from the outside world isn’t the only troubling aspect of her new life — Rósa is also forbidden from going into Jón’s. When Rósa begins to hear strange noises from upstairs, she turns to the local woman in an attempt to find solace. But the villager’s words are even more troubling—confirming many of the rumors about Jón’s first wife, Anna, including that he buried her body alone in the middle of the night.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 

Charged with the brutal murder of two men, Agnes Magnusdóttir has been removed to her homeland’s farthest reaches, to an isolated farm in northern Iceland, to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family on the farm at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. As the winter months pass and Agnes’s death looms closer, the farmer’s wife and daughters learn there is another side to the sensational tale they’ve heard–but will their new knowledge be enough to save Agnes?

Hannah Kent makes real the saga of a doomed young woman who in the early nineteenth century became the last person to be publicly beheaded in Iceland. Rich with lyricism and startling in its revelations, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place as it poses a heartbreaking question: How can one woman hope to endure when her life depends on the stories told by others?

Snowblind (Dark Iceland #1) by Ragnar Jónasson 

Where: A quiet fishing village in northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors. It is accessible only via a small mountain tunnel.

Who: Ari Thor is a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik. He has a past that he’s unable to leave behind.

What: A young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed elderly writer falls to his death. Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.

Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness―blinded by snow and with a killer on the loose.

The Greenhouse by Auður Ava ÓlafsdóttirBrian FitzGibbon (Translator)

For Lobbi, the tragic passing of his mother proves to be a profound catalyst. Their shared love of tending rare roses in her greenhouse inspires him to leave his studies behind and travel to a remote village monastery to restore its once fabulous gardens. While transforming the garden under the watchful eye of a cinephile monk, he is surprised by a visit from Anna, a friend of a friend with whom he shared a fateful moment in his mother’s greenhouse, and the daughter they together conceived that night. In caring for both the garden and the little girl, Lobbi slowly begins to assume the varied and complex roles of a man: fatherhood with a deep relationship with his child, cooking, nurturing, and remaining also a son, brother, lover, and…a gardener. A story about the heartfelt search for beauty in life, The Greenhouse is a touching reminder of our ability to turn the small things in everyday life into the extraordinary.

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