Mariette Lindstein’s debut thriller, “Fog Island” makes you think: what’s my worst nightmare?
How about finding yourself living in a beautiful mansion on an idyllic Nordic island, only to find that you can’t leave? This is a nightmare heroine Sofia finds herself living.
The novel moves quickly. No sooner has Sofia met the good-looking, charming Franz Oswald, leader of a secretive New Age movement, and she is on the ferry across to Fog Island.
The island gets its name because of the perpetual fog that surrounds its waters. On the journey over, Sofia is pointed to a landmark known as Devil’s Rock and told about the sound of a warning foghorn amid ghostly apparitions.
From the start you know this is not going to be a holiday camp experience.
Franz runs the ViaTerra programme, which practises “clean living” and to “walk the way of the earth”.
As Sophie is indoctrinated into ViaTerra ways, she is energised by Franz and his teachings.
It’s not long before Franz demands total obedience, especially from his staff. You have to be loyal to fit into island life, forsaking all you once held dear.
It’s about belief in the New Age programme, and more importantly its leader.
I liked Lindstein’s direct writing approach, and how she showed the transition in both Franz and Sophie.
And though the novel clearly sounds the dangers early on in the novel (think foghorn volume ringing in your eardrum), I was still eager to see them unfurl.
I was a little frustrated by the portrayal of Franz. Initially, he appeared more as a creepy designer-clad teacher rather than a controlling sociopath. I didn’t see him as a threat.
But maybe that’s the trick, as no-one on Fog Island did, either.
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