Hello Readers! Today is my stop during the blog tour for Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources. Please check out the book details and excerpt in this post. I hope you enjoy it.
Storytellers by Bjørn Larssen
Publication Date: March 28, 2019
Genre: Historical fiction, historical suspense with fantasy elements
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?
Is it possible to be both God’s humble servant and a person consumed by ambition?
Every night Ingvar knelt by his bed and asked God to provide him with patience, gratitude, modesty, courage, and power. He was ready to take the next step upwards.
The first impression needed to be prepared meticulously. Ingvar wouldn’t send a messenger to ensure a grand welcome. Instead, he would show up unannounced, blinking in the spring’s sunshine, overwhelmed by the beauty of everything. His hand would go up to cover his open mouth at the sight of the church and dwelling, even if it was nothing but a painted shed. His passion and modesty would be noticed and praised despite his insistence that he was just one of God’s many servants. Trusted, loved, admired, the young Reverend would lead by example.
Ingvar did not share those thoughts with the bishop, who welcomed him with open arms. Unfortunately, apologised the bishop, he would not be able to personally introduce the young pastor to Reverend Kristófer. Ingvar assured him that there was no need to worry, and that he couldn’t wait to meet his future mentor and friend. But as he would find out the day after, Reverend Kristófer was forced to undertake a sudden trip to the country. It was impossible to tell when he would return, said the grumpy housekeeper, shutting the door in his face without as much as saying “God bless”. Anger rolled through Ingvar, but his polite smile didn’t waver. He had overcome bigger obstacles before. The old pastor’s reluctance towards the inevitable was a mere inconvenience. And Ingvar’s self-control was legendary.
He was assured that he couldn’t possibly get lost on his way to the village-without-a-name. All he had to do was follow a path between the hills. But the horse pulling the cart was quite old, and the journey seemed to take forever. As the sun started to go down, Ingvar realised it would have been a good idea to either have waited or hurried. He had to quickly rethink his first impression – perhaps the best course of events, after all, was to knock on the door of the nearest house he encountered, politely asking for some food and a corner to sleep in. In the shed or a stable, he quickly corrected himself. But the first thing he saw was a building site, and he had to rethink his plans again. There was a man standing in front of the site, staring at it, too deep in thought to notice the sound of the cart. Before deciding whether to introduce himself as the new pastor or simply as a weary traveller, Ingvar noticed a cross already installed on the roof of the building. How strange to build two churches so near to each other, he mused, then produced a warm smile when the man finally noticed the approaching cart and turned, seemingly alarmed.
“Excuse me, good man,” said Ingvar cheerfully, descending from the cart. The man’s eyes widened, and he covered his mouth with his hand. Ingvar’s warm smile remained intact. He took a step forward. The man took a step back. The setting sun turned him into a black silhouette, blinding the young pastor. “Are you alright?” Ingvar asked, covering his eyes, trying to take a closer look.
“I,” said Bjarni, dropping his hand to hold on to his stomach, “eh, I must, eh.” Then he quickly retreated, to Ingvar’s bewilderment.
The sight of his brother made Bjarni realise his mistake, his many mistakes, including the fact that he wasn’t on a ship headed for America. He should have alerted the bishop about the problems. The bishop could have sent a letter to Ingvar, or Bjarni could have done it himself. A messenger could have told Ingvar to stay in town a bit longer. It seemed so clear now. But until the very last moment, until literally seconds ago, Bjarni kept deluding himself and convincing others that they would somehow manage to finish on time. Here stood the ultimate proof that he was nothing but an impostor, pretending he knew what he was doing. If only he hadn’t insisted on something unusual, if only the wind hadn’t torn the roof off, if only…
“Hello?” shouted Ingvar. He was hungry, tired, and becoming impatient. Even if he had arrived in the wrong place, this seemed to be an extremely unusual reaction. Where can I be then, he wondered, examining the building again. Then he felt the blood drain from his face. No. He must have lost his way…
Someone emerged from the building, and Ingvar squinted against the sun again. Without a word the man whistled, then continued to gawk. Another man joined him, wiping sweat from his forehead, then froze with his hand still raised, also staring without a word.
“What is going on?” demanded Ingvar, failing to keep the polite smile on his face and the anger out of his voice. “Who are you?”
Someone shyly tugged at his sleeve.
“It’s, it’s… It’s me, Bjarni,” squealed a man, whose face took on a greenish hue despite the red flames of the sun. “I am so sorry, brother, I didn’t think, I thought I– we would, I’m so sorry, I promise…” His voice died out as he saw Ingvar’s eyes narrow. Sunlight illuminated the pastor’s pale face – skin tight over his cheekbones – thinner, more refined features than Arnar’s – Adam’s apple moving up and down – the tightness of his jaw – lips pressed so hard now that they formed a line. Everyone stopped breathing, waiting for Ingvar’s reaction. Bjarni would have run away had he been able to move.
“Remind me,” Ingvar said, his voice quiet, polite, cold. “Who is the person responsible for this?”
Read Storytellers to find the answer to this question – and many others…
Author Bio –
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.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE BOOK? HAVE YOU READ IT ALREADY? ARE YOU GOING TO ADD IT TO TBR?
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