Published May 25th, 2023 by Orenda Books
Crime Fiction, Mystery, Hardboiled, Translated Fiction
Today is my stop on the blog tour for this darkly atmospheric thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and to Orenda Books for the gifted proof.
A snobbish Danish literary author is challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days, travelling to a small village in Iceland for inspiration, and then a body appears … an atmospheric, darkly funny, twisty debut thriller, first in an addictive new series.
‘Dark and sharp … A lot of fun’ Val McDermid
‘Witty, dark, meta, ingenious and hugely compelling. I LOVED the Icelandic setting and satirical observations. EXCELLENT’ Will Dean
‘Dark and atmospheric … a bleak and beautiful evocation of Iceland, and Hannah is a pitch-perfect depiction of the bombastic neurosis that we writers know so very well’ Harriet Tyce
‘Hilariously scathing … satirises genre fiction while creating a first-class example of it, full of suspects, red herrings and twists … wit and originality make it a joy to read’ Mark Sanderson, The Times CRIME BOOK OF THE MONTH
**Winner of the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel**
**Shortlisted for the Glass Key Award**
“Hannah looks up, suddenly struck by the thought that she isn’t sure if reality is serving as a blueprint for her novel, or whether her novel may end up predicting reality.”
Hannah takes her writing seriously. The sweetheart of the literary world, she agonises over every word and is dismissive of genre fiction. At a book fair she declares that genre fiction is so easy, anyone could write a book in thirty days, which she is then challenged to do by another author. Afraid to lose face, Hanmah accepts the challenge and soon finds herself on her way to a remote, tight-knitvillage in Iceland, where she will write her thriller. Two days after her arrival the discovery of a body in the water provides Hannah with the perfect plot material. But things soon spiral out of control and she finds herself immersed in a dangerous and chaotic investigation that puts her, and others, at risk.
“At the end of the day, it’s not the dead we’re interested in. It’s ourselves. The death of another forces the bereaved to reflect on their own lives. Through death, we can put everything into perspective, look at the details of one’s own life anew. And ponder in what way death may eventually come for us. “
Darkly atmospheric, twisty, original and filled with black humour, , Thirty Days of Darkness is a riveting debut that keeps you guessing from start to finish. I’m always excited about a new book from Orenda, but when I read the synopsis for this one I was even more intrigued. I loved the idea of taking some of the criticisms of genre fiction and challenging them by having a character who shares those negative ideas and daring her to prove it’s as easy as they think. I think it’s a difficult plot to pull off as it risks being cliche or a caricature of itself, but Jenny Lund Masden accomplishes it with finesse, crafting a story that is well written, compelling and has the reader on the edge of their seat. Told in short, choppy chapters that help keep the story feeling fresh, there’s an element of satire as Hannah scathingly bashes genre fiction in a book that is an outstanding illustration of why she’s so wrong.
“She looks down at her nails, flexes her fingers, as if they contain some unknown mystery. Which they do, in a way. They translate her thoughts into words, bring her soul into the world, materialise it.”
I love a flawed character so I was thrilled that Hannah isn’t your typical charming protagonist. Snarky, difficult, snobby, and not particularly likeable, she nonetheless has something about her that makes you want to keep reading, if only to see her fall flat on her face or be proven wrong. It was interesting to watch her journey of self-reflection during her time in Iceland and found her much more likeable by the end. But I was glad she never fully lost her spiky edge. Another thing I enjoyed is watching Hannah spar with her nemesis, fellow author Jorn, who is the one who set her the challenge. But I was never quite sure what to make of him and couldn’t decide if the bad feeling I got from him was genuine or had been coloured by Hannah’s opinions.
“Don’t stick your nose too deep into all this. This town has secrets that are best left alone.”
I think small towns make for a great book setting, and I loved the ominous atmosphere of this one. It’s a very secretive place and from the start Hannah is warned not to dig too deep, adding to the impending sense of danger and foreboding that crackles on every page. The residents are a colourful bunch of characters, many of whom match the strange vibe of the village and add to the menacing atmosphere. But is this because they know something, or just a case of a small town closing ranks against an outsider? I had mixed feelings but loved that this, along with the author’s brilliant writing, made it impossible for me to feel like I’d actually figured out who the antagonist was right up until the big reveal that left my jaw on the floor.
Unsettling, mysterious and suspenseful, Thirty Days of Darkness is a must-have addition to the TBR of all thriller lovers.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Jenny Lund Madsen is one of Denmark’s most acclaimed scriptwriters (including the international hits Rita and Follow the Money) and is known as an advocate for better representation for sexual and ethnic minorities in Danish TV and film. She recently made her debut as a playwright with the critically acclaimed Audition (Aarhus Teater) and her debut literary thriller, Thirty Days of Darkness, first in an addictive new series, won the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel of the year and was shortlisted for the coveted Glass Key Award. She lives in Denmark with her young family.
MEET THE TRANSLATOR:
Megan Turney is originally from the West Midlands, and after having spent several years working back and forth between the UK and the Hardanger region of Norway, she is now based in Edinburgh, working as a commercial and literary translator and editor. She was the recipient of the National Centre for Writing’s 2019 Emerging Translator Mentorship in Norwegian, and is a published science fiction critic. She holds an MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, as well as an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies from the University of Manchester.
BUY THE BOOK:
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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx
Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.
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