cover image The Girl Who Died

The Girl Who Died

Ragnar Jónasson, trans. from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Minotaur, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-79373-7

In this unsettling standalone set in the mid-1980s from Jónasson (the Dark Iceland series), Reykjavík substitute teacher Una, who’s ready for a change of scene, accepts an opportunity to teach in the remote fishing village of Skálar, which has only 10 residents, two of them girls aged seven and nine. Una moves into an attic room in the home of one of the girl’s mothers, and soon finds how insular and isolated Skálar is. Meanwhile, to Una’s distress, she has visions in the room of a girl singing a lullaby. A neighbor discloses that a girl named Thrá died in the house in 1927 under mysterious circumstances, and is rumored to still haunt it. A shocking death in the present and a local conspiracy connected to a missing person add to Una’s fears. Jónasson makes Una’s plight feel vivid and immediate, and effectively uses the isolated setting to create a claustrophobic atmosphere. While this packs less of a punch than the author’s best work, it’s far superior to most similarly themed thrillers. [em]Agent: David Headley, DHH Literary (U.K.). (May) [/em]