The bell in the lake by Lars Mytting

In the remote Norwegian village of Butangen, young Astrid Hekne dreams of a life that’s more than working on a farm and bearing children. She serves the new pastor Kai Schweigaard, who’s burning with ambition and, when the cold of the old stave church claims a victim during the harch Winter, finds himself determined to build a new church. For this purpose, the student architect Gerhard Schonauer from Dresden comes to Butangen. But the church is home to the famous sister bells, named after Astrid’s ancestors, and they are said to protect the village, against all costs.

The bell in the lake‘ is a very atmospheric historical novel in which Mytting managed to write very beautiful descriptions of the 19th century Norwegian landscape. The local myths, legends and superstition are also discussed. As well as the hard life in the village where time has stood still.

The story is told from the point of view of Astrid and the two men she meets, Kai and Gerhard. Astrid dreams of a life outside Butangen, but at the same time she wants to protect the old church, and especially the sister bells, from demolition. There are very few stave churches left in Norway and this book really introduced me to their existence. What a beautiful gems!

Although this book is well written with an original real-life setting, I still missed something to give it 5 stars. Maybe because the plot was a bit predictable? Mytting could have made some bolder choices in there I believe. This is the first book of a trilogy and I am sure that I’ll read the next one. It offers me a change of scenery to what I’m reading most of the time. I’m curious to see what will happen next at Butangen.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Have you ever been to Norway?


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