The Ice Lands

The Ice Lands
Author of Review: 

The Ice Lands

(Hálendið, 2011)

In The Ice Lands Steinar Bragi is on familiar grounds, using tropes more commonly found in the genres of horror and fantasy to address deep-seated psychological complexities within today’s culture.

The book begins with a classic horror movie setup: a group of friends – two couples – set off on a road trip into the Icelandic countryside, hoping to escape the troubles of their city lives. Each of them is plagued in one way or another by the recent economic crash, which has left them all on unsure financial footing. During a storm, their jeep crashes into a dilapidated farmhouse and the foursome must seek shelter with the occupants, an uncommunicative elderly couple who bar themselves in at night and are fearful of something hidden in the howling winds outside.

Initially, The Ice Lands seems to be headed for a familiar horror narrative but the tensions within the group are more internal – as revealed by the shifting perspectives of the four rotating protagonists. Eventually, the four descend into chaos and madness as layers of their past and their very psyche become unravelled while they undergo their absurd and terrifying tribulations.