Thirty Days of Darkness, Jenny Lund Madsen

Book Review: Thirty Days of Darkness, Jenny Lund Madsen, translated by Megan Turney

Thirty Days of Darkness, Jenny Lund Madsen

Literary Fiction: Thirty Days of Darkness, Jenny Lund Madsen, translated by Megan Turney

Blog Tour: May 15, 2023


Some publishers seem to outdo themselves with finding books that are incredibly well done and worthy of much larger audiences. Orenda, time after time after time, leads that group. I am not sure who at Orenda is responsible for finding their books, but they deserve all the commendations they can receive. WIth Thirty Days of Darkness, Orenda has hit another home run (or whatever the UK equivalent is).


In this novel, Hannah is a Cophenhagen writer of literary fiction. Her work is erudite, profound, critically acclaimed, and virtually unread. She is worried that her publisher is going to drop her, she is plagued with writer’s block, and she is jealous of the success of more mainstream authors.


Publicly challenged to write a genre-fiction novel in thirty days, Hannah accepts the bet. Her publisher sends her from Copenhagen to a small town in the north of Iceland so she can concentrate on her writing, free of the distractions of home. However, two days after arriving, the body of a local fisherman’s son is pulled from the water.


So begins a book that is really a novel within a novel about a novel. Hannah takes some inspiration (if that’s the right word) from the crime for her own book. She also stumbles into trying to solve the crime herself. A more unlikely gumshoe is hard to imagine: an arrogant urban auteur who does not speak Icelandic trying to solve a murder in a fishing community far from any city. Throw in an unlikely friendship, a passionate romance, an unreported crime from decades earlier, and violent attacks trying to get Hannah off the case, and you have a series of disparate plots that seem impossible to bring together.


Impossible, that is, for someone less talented than Jenny Lund Madsen. A scriptwriter turned novelist, her book reads like the story arc of a well-plotted series. That is perhaps not a fair comparison, since so many of those series fail to deliver. This novel does not. It is smart, sweeping, and twisty. Madsen expertly takes all of these plots and ties them together into a very satisfying and somewhat unexpected conclusion. Wonderfully translated by Megan Turney, the nordic origin of the novel is brought into English. Tunney explains the Danish or Icelandic cultural points deftly as part of the novel when needed–and lets them stand on their own when the flavor of the original is needed. I read it in English, but I never forgot that this was a book from an adjacent culture. Expertly crafted and translated from start to finish.


Our thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things for our copy of Thirty Days of Darkness, provided so we could write an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

Thirty Days of Darkness, Jenny Lund Madsen

Book Review: Thirty Days of Darkness, Jenny Lund Madsen, translated by Megan Turney

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