The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson

For as many mystery novels that I read, I have not delved into the world of Icelandic or Scandinavian noirs. This is my first taste of one, so let’s see how it goes!

Thank you Minotaur Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Una wants nothing more than to teach, but she has been unable to secure steady employment in Reykjavík. Her savings are depleted, her love life is nonexistent, and she cannot face another winter staring at the four walls of her shabby apartment. Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 1986 in the remote fishing hamlet of Skálar seems like a small price to pay for a chance to earn some teaching credentials and get her life back on track. But Skálar isn’t just one of Iceland’s most isolated villages, it is home to less than a dozen people. Una’s only students are two girls aged seven and nine. Teaching them only occupies so many hours in a day and the few adults she interacts with are civil but distant. She only seems to connect with Thór, a man she shares an attraction with but who is determined to keep her at arm’s length. As darkness descends throughout the bleak winter, Una finds herself more often than not in her rented attic space – the site of a local legendary haunting – drinking her loneliness away. She is plagued by nightmares of a little girl in a white dress singing a lullaby. And when a sudden tragedy echoes an event long buried in Skálar’s past, the villagers become even more guarded, leaving a suspicious Una seeking to uncover a shocking truth that’s been kept secret for generations.

As I teacher myself, I can’t imagine the feeling of heading to a new job and getting WAY more than you bargained for. It was a little hard to immerse myself in this atmosphere since I really don’t have much context or experience in it, but it was eerie and mystifying in a good way. It has elements of the supernatural which is especially entertaining to me as of lately. It’s not a style of mystery I can see myself reading again, but it was enjoyable.

4/5 Stars

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