Review 1603: The Glass Woman

It’s November 1686 in Stykkishólmur, Iceland. After an earthquake, the ice splits open and disgorges a woman’s body.

Three months earlier, Rósa and her mother are near starvation after the death of her father Magnús, the Bishop of Skálholt. He could have been a powerful and wealthy man, but he preferred to give away all he owned. Despite his generosity, no one is willing to give a single thing to help the women except Páll, Rósa’s childhood friend.

Then Rósa’s mother hears that Jón Eiriksson, a powerful man from a village in the north, is looking for a wife. There are weird rumors about the death of his first wife, but with her mother coughing blood, Rósa decides to marry him.

When she arrives in Stykkishólmur, however, Jón seems to have become unexpectedly stern. He hardly spends any time with her and wants her to stay away from the village. The loft in the house is locked, and he tells her to stay out of it. The villagers seem to be afraid of him and his apprentice, Pétur. Rósa, alone night after night, thinks she hears something moving in the loft and imagines someone moving through her rooms at night.

This Icelandic version of the Bluebeard story is highly atmospheric, and I was very interested in it. However, in some ways I found it unsatisfying. I didn’t like the ending and thought that the situation could have been cleared up easily with the truth. Also, the character of Páll is undefined. At first, it seems he will be a minor character, but he ends up being more important, and as such, should have a personality. Overall, though, I found the customs and beliefs of the time and place interesting, and I liked Rósa.

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4 thoughts on “Review 1603: The Glass Woman

  1. Juliet @ This Girl's Book Room January 19, 2021 / 12:13 pm

    I’ve had this on my shelves for months but have never got round to it, so this is a handy reminder that I need to read it, thank you!

    • whatmeread January 19, 2021 / 6:02 pm

      You’re welcome! I hope you like it.

  2. Helen January 19, 2021 / 12:35 pm

    I read this a few years ago and I had similar feelings about it. I agree that Pall could have been a stronger character, but I did find the book very atmospheric and I loved the Icelandic setting.

    • whatmeread January 19, 2021 / 6:02 pm

      Yes, I love books set in Iceland.

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