Book Review: The Island by Ragnar Jónasson @ragnarjo @MinotaurBooks @StMartinsPress #stephlvsbooks #TheIsland #crimefiction #bookreview


Book Title and Author: The Island by Ragnar Jónasson
Series: Hidden Iceland #2
Publication Date and Publisher: May 21, 2019 by Minotaur Books
Genre: Fiction, Nordic Noir, Mystery
Pages: 352 pages
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Date Read: May 15, 2019 (paper copy from the publisher)

4.5 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Elliðaey is an isolated island off the coast of Iceland. It is has a beautiful, unforgiving terrain and is an easy place to vanish.

The Island is the second thrilling book in Ragnar Jonasson’s Hidden Iceland trilogy. This time Hulda is at the peak of her career and is sent to investigate what happened on Elliðaey after a group of friends visited but one failed to return.

Could this have links to the disappearance of a couple ten years previously out on the Westfjords? Is there a killer stalking these barren outposts?

Written with Ragnar’s haunting and suspenseful prose The Island follows Hulda’s journey to uncover the island’s secrets and find the truth hidden in its darkest shadows.

My Thoughts:

Last fall I read The Darkness, book one in Ragnar Jónasson’s Hidden Iceland trilogy, and I loved it, so I knew I had to get my hands on The Island as soon as I could. Not only is Jónasson’s writing simply superb, but he’s masterfully created a character in Detective Inspector Hulda Hermansdóttir who I thought after reading book one, and believe even more now after reading The Island, is one of the best fictional detectives I’ve encountered; she’s high-spirited, gruff, driven to succeed and we find out more of why she is that way!

The Island, like his previous book, is hauntingly atmospheric and bone-chillingly suspenseful. The novel starts out slowly but is perfectly paced. It’s obvious that Jónasson is a master at pacing, atmosphere, plots, and his characters as he writes this story.

The novel begins in 1987, in the past, when a romantic getaway goes horribly wrong leaving a young woman murdered. Ten years later in the present day, four old friends travel together on the anniversary of her death to a cabin on a remote island off the coast of Iceland called Ellidaey. It can only be reached by boat—no phones, no escape.

Nothing about the trip seems like a good idea as the desolate scene provides the setting for a tragedy—of the four friends, only three come home alive. Was it an accident? Was it murder? How is the death ten years ago tied to the one in the present day?

Jónasson expertly ties together the plot from the past and the present with Hulda investigating both the tragedy that happened on Ellidaey and what happened a decade ago. The story is multilayered, rich, and complex, and any lover of mysteries, suspense, and nordic noir will be sure to love this one. The reveal is slow, teasing, and not given away early; in fact, I was shocked, pleasantly, since I always figure out early the whodunit!

As far as nordic noir goes, Jonasson is a master of the genre; if you haven’t dipped into nordic noir yet, then I highly recommend starting with this series. Although you can read The Island first, I would recommend reading them in order as they are extraordinarily and brilliantly structured in reverse chronological order. The Darkness takes place at Hulda’s retirement while The Island picks up 15 years earlier in the middle of her career.

It seems like a challenging structure for a trilogy, but Jonasson has pulled it off fabulously. I can’t wait to read book 3 in the series and learn more about Hulda and finally know all the missing pieces of her life.

The Island was unputdownable. It is cleverly written and original without being overly dramatic like some thrillers, which I LOVED!

**Thank you, Joseph Brosnan, at Minotaur Books for my gifted review copy to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**


20 thoughts on “Book Review: The Island by Ragnar Jónasson @ragnarjo @MinotaurBooks @StMartinsPress #stephlvsbooks #TheIsland #crimefiction #bookreview

  1. Great review, Stephanie and thanks for the recommendation. I have never read Nordic Noir. I am intrigued by the setting and I like that the detective is one of your favourites. Will have to take a closer look at this series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Diana. It’s a great genre if you like mysteries. I love how atmospherics it is. She really is. She’s just so different from any other detective I’ve read about before. Please do! He has another very good series too. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything he writes.


    1. Thank you, Jennifer! It’s a fabulous series and so uniquely written. If you have loved Nordic Noir before, then you should love this. He’s outstanding. It is! I want to go to Iceland now. Happy Tuesday to you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Susan. He is known in Iceland for writing in an Agatha Christie style and this book had that feel, especially the crime on the Island with the “locked in” mystery. I hope you enjoy him if you check him out.


  2. I loved The Darkness as well and totally didn’t realize the sequel was already out! I’m definitely adding it to my wishlist now. Fab review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you loved The Darkness too! This one was so great. I think the 3rd one is out already in Iceland and is just waiting to be released in English, but I could be wrong. I just know that I want to read it asap. Thanks, Yvo!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a shame I didn’t see The Island or NG (couldn’t find it either when I checked yesterday), but I’m hoping the next one will be. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh too bad. The publisher sent me the book in the mail but I think that’s because I reviewed the 1st one off NG. I would think the next one would be on there-hopefully! If I see a release date for it or see it on NG, I will let you know!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh that makes sense that it’s not on NG then! I did review the first book through NG, but since I never get physical ARCs I missed out on number two. I’m hoping to get a copy soon though so I can catch up. Fingers crossed book three will be on NG again. 😉


      4. That’s too bad! I still would have thought it would have been on NG. Not everyone gets physical ARCS, I get very few myself, and I would have thought they would have wanted as many people as possible to review it. Odd, really. I hope so too! I’ll definitely keep checking and let you know if I see it.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yeah it’s strange, especially since they did put the first book on NG… Maybe they thought extra publicity wouldn’t be necessary for the sequel? Who knows…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. It really is strange. I would have thought they would have wanted all they could get. I know he’s popular in Iceland, but I don’t know a lot of people in the US who are familiar with him, so that is odd to me. Oh well…book 3 we’ll keep fingers crossed!

        Liked by 1 person

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