The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson

Genre: police procedural. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.61. ⭐️Stars from me: 2.

The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson enraged me more than I ever expected to be enraged by a book. I had to keep myself away from any social media in order to decompress first and only then to reform my indignation into a more coherent review.

Spoiler free story of The Darkness.

The Darkness is the first book in a series about a detective in Iceland. Her name is Hulda Hermannsdóttir. She’s about to retire but is given an opportunity to investigate one last case of her choice. She picks up an old case about a Russian immigrant found dead in the river.

What’s good about The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson.

The protagonist is well crafted. Hulda Hermannsdóttir is quite a likeable character. It’s easy to root for her and to sympathise with what she’s going through.

The writing (and I guess the translation) is decent. Nothing is too simplistic yet the story is easy to read.

All the elements of a good detective story are there. There are no holes in the plot, all dots connect in the end.  The plot did sometimes depend on the stupidity of some characters but this stupidity looks quite plausible.

There are two dramatic background stories, one of which had a very unexpected twist, that’s when I thought I might like the book eventually.

What’s really bad about The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson.

The ending of the story is a disaster! How could one tell a story like this?! Why?! Books are supposed to bring some level of satisfaction. Sure, not all books do. But this is the first book I’ve ever met that intentionally betrays the reader. Is it done for the novelty or the shock effect? It’s not only that your expectations are not met, it’s also the way the details of the betrayal are savoured. You are shown more than you need to see just to disgust you even more.

I’m seriously suspecting The Darkness started a phobia in me. How many books are out there that will use me this way?  How can I choose the right book if good writing, well-developed characters and a well-knitted plot are no longer indicators of a good book?

Final thoughts on The Darkness.

Obviously I cannot recommend the book as I wouldn’t want to put anybody through a similar experience. That being said, there are tons of positive reviews of The Darkness. I even saw readers being happy about being shocked this way. Thus, even though I will never pick up the second book in the series you might still like it. Consider yourself warned and choose for yourself 🙂 .

Big thanks to the publishers for the copy in exchange for my obviously honest review!

12 thoughts on “The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson

  1. Urg! Thank you for the warning! I really dislike it when authors break the compact between themselves and readers, especially when dealing with whodunits.

    1. Thank you! Yes, exactly. For a couple of hours before I was finally able to write down the review I was just yelling into the emptiness: “how is this even allowed? There should be some code of conduct, some ethical rules not to do this to a reader!” I am truly worried now that there are more books that would do this. Apparently, there’s no code of conduct after all.

  2. Oh, this is defo not what i expected. I think i have this on my Kindle. In any case, i was looking forward to reading it. I like stories set in Iceland. Infuriating ending is no bueno tho…

    1. I would be very interested to know what you think if you decide to read it. I will not say more so as not to accidentally let something more out. I read it from the Kindle too.

    1. Yes, I thought it might get people curious.😁 In fact, my husband insisted I’d tell him the story and so I did. His verdict was that it’s very cool but he can see how it can be very dissatisfying.

      1. Haha, my husband makes me do the same thing — tell him about the books I’m reading, even though he doesn’t read much himself. He likes the stories, just not reading as much. 🙂

  3. I tend to do the same thing with weird scifi shows he’s watching, haha. I don’t wanna watch the gory details, but I’m curious about what’s going on with the characters. 🙂

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