Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Storytellers by Bjorn Larssen + #Giveaway

Storytellers by Bjorn Larssen
Published in the Netherlands by josephtailor on the 28th March 2019.

2019 New Release Challenge read and one of my 2019 COYER Summer Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via Rachel's Random Resources

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Add Storytellers to your Goodreads

In March 1920 Icelandic days are short and cold, but the nights are long. For most, on those nights, funny, sad, and dramatic stories are told around the fire. But there is nothing dramatic about Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith who barely manages to make ends meet. He knows nobody will remember him – they already don’t. All he wants is peace, the company of his animals, and a steady supply of his medication. Sometimes he wonders what it would feel like to have a story of his own. He’s about to find out.

Sigurd – a man with a plan, a broken ankle, and shocking amounts of money – won’t talk about himself, but is happy to tell a story that just might get Gunnar killed. The blacksmith's other “friends” are just as eager to write him into stories of their own – from Brynhildur who wants to fix Gunnar, then marry him, his doctor who is on the precipice of calling for an intervention, The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways” – even the wretched elf has plans for the blacksmith.

As his defenses begin to crumble, Gunnar decides that perhaps his life is due for a change – on his own terms. But can he avoid the endings others have in mind for him, and forge his own?

I loved Iceland when I visited briefly a few years ago although we didn't get to see the Northern Lights. The stunning display pictured on the Storytellers cover caught my eye and I'm glad to say that the story inside is just as powerful. Storytellers is set in the 1920s, with characters also remembering events from several decades before, and I was impressed with Larssen's historical portrayals. Rural Iceland wasn't at the cutting edge of the Jazz Age(!) and I got a good sense of the timelessness of life in this small community. The new doctor might have his new-fangled car and telephone, but no one else can ring him up and a good horse will amble faster on what passes for roads.

Misanthropic Gunnar is a great character! I could empathise with a lot of his emotions and actions - although I've never chatted with an elf. Initially I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy the story-within-a-story device, but once Sigurd's narrative caught my attention I was completely hooked. Everyone felt very real and believable especially determined Brynhildur and I loved the almost-Dickensian exaggeration of the Constipated Hags. It was difficult to believe that Storytellers is actually a debut novel. Larssen's assured prose and intricately woven plot lines made for an interesting and entertaining novel which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Meet the author

Bjørn Larssen was made in Poland. He is mostly located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one. Since then his short stories and essays were published in Rita Baum Art Magazine, Writer Unboxed, Inaczej Magazine), Edurada.pl, Homiki.pl, and Holandia Expat Magazine. He is a member of Alliance of Independent Authors and Writer Unboxed.

Bjørn has a Master of Science degree in mathematics, worked as a graphic designer, a model, and a blacksmith. He used to speak eight languages (currently down to two and a half). His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland, even though he hates being cold. He has only met an elf once. So far.

Author links: 
Facebook ~ Twitter

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

Win 5 x copies of “Iceland: Making Memories” (Open internationally until the 12th July 2019)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Etsy Find!
by Adam Biernat Studio in
Gdansk, Poland

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Books by Bjorn Larssen / Historical fiction / Books from Poland


  1. Thank you so much for your time and review – so glad you liked the book! :)

  2. What an interesting sounding story.