If you haven't yet discovered Ragnar Jonasson's outstanding Dark Iceland mystery series, now is the perfect time to start. Influenced in equal measure by the stunning beauty of Iceland and the equally stunning plotting of Queen of Crime Agatha Christie, these books will make the perfect choice for winter reading material - or for any season, really. On December 5th, 2017, American readers are in for a treat: the second book in the Dark Iceland series, NIGHTBLIND, will be released in the US! To help celebrate this upcoming publication - and to entice readers unfamiliar with Jonasson’s work to dig into his series - I’m thrilled to provide you with an insider’s glimpse into Siglufjörður, the Icelandic town that provides the backdrop for this internationally-bestselling crime fiction series.
Readers around the world have been captivated by Jonasson’s lyrical, vivid portrayal of this small fishing town on the northern coast of Iceland, and today’s blog post will give you a sense of the incredible beauty of the land central to this series—a beauty which Jonasson masterfully represents in the Dark Iceland books. Readers will discover so much to love in the Dark Iceland books, from their gorgeous backdrop (which we're about to explore!) to their classic crime-inspired tone to the engaging, endearing characters found within them. In the US, the Dark Iceland series includes (so far!): SNOWBLIND (on sale now!) and NIGHTBLIND (releasing 12/5/17). In today's blog post, you'll get a sense of the town of Siglufjörður - from a few fun facts abut the town, to a mini-Q&A with Jonasson about why he chose to set his Dark Iceland series, to an absolutely stunning photo tour with commentary from Jonasson himself!
Now, join me for a photo tour of Siglufjörður, with Ragnar Jonasson as our guide!
How Do I Pronounce "Siglufjörður"?
First things first: this handy YouTube video (courtesy of YouTube channel Cool Icelandic Lessons) will teach you how to pronounce this town name! Skip to minute 1:00 to hear Siglufjörður pronounced.
Where in the world is Siglufjörður?
Siglufjörður is a small fishing town on the northern coast of Iceland. You'll see it highlighted on the map below!
A few fun facts about the town:
Town Population: 1,230
Distance from Reykjavik: Approx. 235 miles; 4 hours & 45 minute drive
Nearest Airport: 1-hour drive, Akureyri
Daylight Hours: Siglufjörður experiences midnight sun from June 9 to July 1. On December 21st, the shortest day of the year, Siglufjörður has only 2 hours and 39 minutes of daylight.
Mini Q&A with Ragnar Jonasson:
Crime by the Book: Could you tell us about why you chose to set the Dark Iceland series in Siglufjordur?
Ragnar Jonasson: I chose Siglufjörður as the setting for my Dark Iceland series because I have a very strong personal connection to the town. My grandparents used to live there and my father grew up there. We still own their house and visit every chance we get. The house is still in its original form and being there is like visiting old times, full of memories. I think my first visit there was when I was 3 months’ old. Siglufjörður is also a perfect setting for a crime novel due to its isolation and harsh elements. Daylight is scarce in wintertime and the town can be easily blocked off from the outside world when it starts snowing.
CBTB: In Book 1 in the series, SNOWBLIND, the town is cut off from the rest of the country when a blizzard blocks off the one road that goes into and from the town. Is this possible in real life? Have you heard stories of this happening?
RJ: Yes, this is very much the reality of Icelanders who live outside of Reykjavik. Siglufjörður is surrounded by sea and mountains and is only accessible through a mountain tunnel. Sometimes weather and road conditions make it impossible to access the town, especially before the second tunnel into town was opened, in 2010. They regularly have to close the road due to risk of avalanches, and the most recent avalanche closed one of the roads into town as recently as this November.
CBTB: Do you have any personal favorite locations in Siglufjordur?
RJ: I love to walk to the marina and breathe in the fresh sea air and take in the scenery.
Photo Tour: Siglufjörður
With Ragnar Jonasson
I can truly say that the below photos of Siglufjörður took my breath away. It’s hard to imagine a part of the world more stark and beautiful—I have now added visiting Siglufjörður to my bucket list! Thanks to the stunning images below, we will explore the town that inspired Jonasson’s Dark Iceland series, and Jonasson himself will provide some wonderful commentary on the beautiful scenes pictured here!
Note: you can click on any photo in this post to enlarge it.
Many thanks to Sigurdur Aegisson for allowing me to use the below photos for this Photo Tour. All photos are property of Sigurdur Aegisson, and may not be reproduced without permission.
Ragnar: Siglufjörður in wintertime is a great place for skiing, and often picture postcard perfect, as there are not many towns in Iceland, if any, with as much snowfall as Siglufjörður.
Ragnar: The tranquility is one of the best things about Siglufjörður. The pace of life there is very different from big cities.
Ragnar: The current church (featured in Snowblind) with its distinguishable red bell tower was built in 1932 but there has been a church in Siglufjörður since 1614.
Ragnar: The times are changing. The green building in the center of the photo is a brand new boutique hotel and as you can see the architecture is very much in line with the atmosphere of the town. Fish has always been the lifeline of Siglufjördur, but tourism is becoming ever more important.
Ragnar: Strákagöng is a single track tunnel that is 830 meters long. Before Strákagöng, the only way to get to Siglufjörður was by sea or by air, or by a very difficult mountain road which was only open in the height of summer.
CBTB: The plot of the first book in the Dark Iceland series, SNOWBLIND, is centered around a snowstorm that blocks off the tunnel leading to and from town, essentially turning a whole town into a "locked room mystery." Learn more about SNOWBLIND here!
Ragnar: Strákagöng, a tunnel that takes you to Siglufjörður, was opened in 1967. Not for the claustrophobics.
Ragnar: This never gets old. I am always lost for words when I see the Northern Lights, and they rarely shine anywhere brighter than in the north of Iceland.
And that concludes our photo tour of Siglufjörður! Many, many thanks to Ragnar Jonasson and the beautiful photographer Sigurdur Aegisson for making this blog post possible - what an absolute pleasure to be able to share these stunning photos with you today!
To delve into the world of Siglufjörður even more, make sure to pick up Jonasson's Dark Iceland books - and stay tuned for a fantastic Q&A with author Ragnar Jonasson coming next week, where he and I discuss his newest US series installment, NIGHTBLIND. Grab a copy of SNOWBLIND and pre-order NIGHTBLIND via the links below!