THE ICE LANDS Twin Freaks
released OUT now! 325 pages | Hardback/ebook
Author steinar bragi Publisher macmillan
With their windswept deserts, Iceland’s volcanic hinterlands are a perfect setting for an unsettling horror story.
Centring on four friends forced to shelter at a remote farmhouse after their jeep breaks down, The Ice Lands makes good use of its atmospheric natural surroundings. After being taken in by a mysterious couple, divisions between the quartet worsen as they discover that there’s no escape from the eerie, limbo-esque environment they’re apparently stuck in.
Reminiscent of The Shining, The Ice Lands has also been compared to Twin Peaks, although it actually has more in common with less fantastical Nordic Noir authors like Stieg Larsson, as Steinar Bragi savagely critiques the corrupt practices that led to Iceland’s 2008 banking collapse.
The cast of characters is unsympathetic, and the first half especially would have benefitted with a few less discursions into their dodgy financial dealings and sexual peccadillos. More emphasis should have been placed on the Icelandic myths evoked – particularly as some have a bearing on the characters’ grisly fate. And though curiously compelling, the way the ambiguous ending leaves much left unresolved is frustrating. Stephen Jewell
Icelandic horror is rare, but we can just about recommend 2009’s Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre.