Moonstone | Sjón | Sceptre | June 2016
The year is 1918 and in Iceland the erupting volcano Katla can be seen colouring the sky night and day from the streets of Reykjavik. Yet life in the small capital carries on as usual, despite the natural disaster, a shortage of coal and, in the outside world, the Great War grinding on.
There, sixteen-year-old Máni Steinn lives for the new fashion – the movies. Asleep he dreams altered versions of them, their tapestry of events threaded with strands from his own life. Awake he hovers on the fringes of society. But then the Spanish flu epidemic comes ashore, killing hundreds and driving thousands into their sick beds. The shadows of existence deepen and for Máni everything changes.
Solid 3.5/5 for me. It both benefits and suffers from its brevity. I’d have loved to know more about certain characters, seen a bit more interaction between some. It would have added much to the experience. Then again, too much more would have taken something away.
I was impressed with some of the prose, especially the opening few paragraphs, which managed to set the scene, the location, and ask enough questions to make me want to read more and find out what was going on, with only a few lines. (What is happening becomes pretty clear very soon afterwards!)
If you want to read it. It’s best that you know little about the story itself. So, beware a few gentle (non-plot) spoilers ahead. It’s a little bit surreal, a little bit metaphor, a little bit Bildungsroman. When you finish the story, you find out that it’s a different story to the one you thought you were reading. I know from reading other reviews that throws some people, but I liked that it made me think back and almost experience the story again, without actually re-reading it.
But, as I say. The less you know the better, so that’s all you’re getting from me.