Review: The Day is Dark by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Hodder & Stoughton)

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It’s not much of a summer I know but it’s been warm enough that reading parts of The Day is Dark made me shiver. We start off in Iceland but we quickly move to Greenland following Thora Gudmundsdottir as she joins the investigating team looking in to disappearance of two Icelanders working on the sparsely populated northeast coast.

This is Thora’s fourth outing and my first accompanying her. And to be honest I’m not much more the wiser who she is at the beginning than at the end. This isn’t a bad thing as such but it does illustrate that the main focus is on the events surrounding the missing men rather than developing Thora or her relationship with Matthew.

That isn’t to say she isn’t an enjoyable or colourful character, she is. But her personality doesn’t have time to shine. Instead through Thora we are taken to a mining station near a village that is only accessible via boat or helicopter and are trapped with her as she helps investigate.

It is a great and claustrophobic setting and Yrsa is good at keeping the tension tight and the story moving as not only does the place itself bring external pressures but slowly the layers are peeled back and you discover that people in isolation need a certain personality traits to thrive in this environment. And the original crew here definitely seemed to have slowly festured.

It’s also an insightful commentary on isolated communities like the indigenous people, as the doctor in the group keeps saying things like ‘normally they welcome us’ as they again get ignored by the villagers when they come asking questions and seeking information that’ll find the missing men.

What is fascinating is how old superspicions effect so much and Yrsa challenges the readers belief in how much they are old wives tales and how far they extend into reality.

As I’ve said The Day is Dark is tightly written.  The twists and turns keep on coming but Yrsa manages to spend time exploring the more spiritual and human experiences in this harsh environment and even though it pushes Thora away from centre stage she is a catalyst for several key moments and she is an enjoyable pair of eyes to see events through.

Highly recommended. I certainly intend to go back and see what else Thora Gudmundsdottir has been up to.

 

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