Book Beginnings: Moonstone by Sjón

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. The idea is to share the first few lines of a book you have just started or are about to start and your initial thoughts on it.


The October evening is windless and cool. There is a distant throb of a motorcycle. The boy puts his head on one side to get a better fix on the sound. Holding it still, he tries to work out the distance; to hear if the bike is coming closer or moving away; if it’s being ridden over level or marshy ground, or up a snowy slope on the town side of the hill…

I think this opening does a really good job of setting the sense of place, and a bit of intrigue. Is the motorbike important, why is our narrator concerned about how close it is, what is he up to? (Incidentally, we discover what, in the first line of the next paragraph, which is why I stopped where I did. 😉)


Book cover of Moonstone by SjónAbout Moonstone by Sjón

Reykjavik, 1918. The eruptions of the Katla volcano darken the sky night and day. Yet despite the natural disaster, the shortage of coal and the Great War still raging in the outside world, life in the small capital goes on as always.

Sixteen-year-old Mani Steinn lives for the movies. Awake, he lives on the fringes of society. Asleep, he dreams in pictures, the threads of his own life weaving through the tapestry of the films he loves. When the Spanish flu epidemic comes ashore, killing hundreds of townspeople and forcing thousands to their sick beds, the shadows that linger at the edges of existence grow darker and Mani is forced to re-evaluate both the society around him and his role in it.

Evoking the moment when Iceland’s saga culture met the new narrative form of the cinema and when the isolated island became swept up in global events, this is the story of a misfit transformed by his experiences in a world where life and death, reality and imagination, secrets and revelations jostle for dominance.

Moonstone on Goodreads

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