CHRISTMAS in Iceland is traditionally a season for giving new-release novels as presents, reading by candlelight and dining on smoked local lamb. It is not a season for finding uninvited visitors on one’s snow-covered doorstep.
When an unfamiliar man arrives at Erla and Einar Einarsson’s farm near Höfn in the east of the country, the couple feel obliged to offer him shelter. A blizzard is brewing and he’s on foot, having lost his way while out shooting ptarmigan with friends from Reykjavík – or so he says. His story is weak, however: he’s not carrying a gun, after all, and he claims not to have noticed their daughter Anna’s house as he approached the Einarsson property even though he followed the main road directly past it.
At the western extremity of the island, Hulda Hermannsdóttir is struggling to corral her own family into celebrating appropriately this year.
Husband Jón refuses to take teenager Dimma’s withdrawn, reclusive behaviour seriously, despite Hulda demanding that they consult a psychologist. It’s just typical adolescence, Jón insists. They’re yet to choose and decorate a Christmas tree, the last few gifts still haven’t been bought and the prospect of having her mother visit is gnawing at Hulda. What should be a happy, peaceful period is anything but.
Away from her chaotic homelife, a day in the office is equally excruciating for police officer Hulda. A young woman has been missing for months and her parents are frantic. Returning a phonecall from the girl’s family is right at the top of Hulda’s to-do list.
The third and final instalment in Jónasson’s Hidden Iceland series (also known as ‘the Hulda triology’), The Mist precedes both The Darkness and The Island chronologically in the saga of Hulda and her family so elaborates on situations only hinted at in the first two releases.