Book Review: Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen

Hello everybody! I’m really excited to have a different type of story on Joyful Antidotes today. I’d love to know what you think about it in the comments below.


Storytellers* by Bjørn Larssen is set in Iceland in March 1920. Gunnar is a goldsmith who lives his life as a hermit, and is perfectly happy to not have any relationships with anybody, despite barely being able to make ends meet. His life changes when he has to take care of Sigurd, a rich man with a broken ankle. Sigurd won’t speak about himself but is happy to tell a story which distracts Gunnar from prying neighbours, the woman who wants to fix him, and The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways”. 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 really didn’t know what to think from the blurb of this book so I can’t tell you if it lived up to my expectations. All I can tell you is that it was a good read and the reasons why.
Storytellers is set in Iceland, a new destination for me. Return Joyful Antidotes readers will know by know that I love learning about new things via fiction. In this book, I learned what 1920s Iceland was like from the effects of the Great Depression to various customs and superstitions. In addition, I was able to paint a more vivid picture of Iceland in my head, thanks to the beautifully written descriptions by the author.
The wonderful prose of the author also extended to the characters, especially Gunnar. Now, Gunnar isn’t a very likeable character. He is an alcoholic and a hermit who is rude to the people he comes across. But there is a sadness about him which is excellently depicted. We learn about his parents’ death, that he doesn’t have very much money and, despite what he may have others believe, he does what a friend. We really start to see this last point as his relationship with Sigurd progresses. He starts to enjoy caring for him and likes his company. Overall, we begin to recognise him as a man in a deep depression and, as a result, our sympathy towards him outweighs any negative personal traits.
There is another theme that I really enjoyed in Storytellers, and we see it in the current time and also through Sigurd’s story. That is, the danger of rumours and gossip, and how easily the tide can turn for people. This theme opens up a whole load of twists and turns that makes Storytellers a more gripping tale than one would originally imagine.
Overall, I rather enjoyed this book. A bit out of my comfort zone but certainly worth the risk.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
*affiliate link


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