Land of Hidden Fires (★★★★☆)

Land of Hidden Fires

Kirk Kjeldsen   *   Grenzland Press   *   January 24, 2017   *   212 Pages

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An allied plane goes down over a remote region in Norway. Kari Dahlstrom is out working on her family’s farm when she sees it drop. Though her recently-widowed father forbids her to get involved, Kari investigates the crash anyway, and when she finds the pilot alive, she decides to help him cross the border into Sweden. Land of Hidden Fires is about their journey through the cold and unforgiving countryside as they try to avoid being captured by SS officers.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did, but I was hooked from the start. It’s a short little nugget of a story but still completely captivating in a quietly suspenseful sort of way. The characters are very reserved, but their inner lives are revealed just enough so that it is easy to empathize with them. Kari’s father, Erling, surprised me by becoming one of my favorites.

I also really appreciated how fully author Kjeldsen was able to describe the harsh Norwegian climate. I felt like I was frozen on a mountain right next to these people.

My only minor complaint is that the story’s ending felt rushed. I liked where the book ended up, but Kjeldsen seemed too eager to get there. As an example, it took a whole novel for Kari to get from her farm to Sweden, but it only took a few pages for her to go from Sweden back to her farm. I wish there had been a little more detail at the end. I wasn’t ready to let go that quickly.

Still, I loved getting lost in this story. The characters are endearing, the setting harsh but gorgeous, and the plot is unique and creative. Not a bad little book.

ARC provided by author.


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