White Shadow (The Barrøy Trilogy 2)

Written by Roy Jacobsen
Review by Janice Derr

With her aunt recovering from a broken leg in a hospital on the mainland, Ingrid is the only person living on Barrøy. Life on the northern Norwegian island is harsh and unforgiving, with a never-ending amount of work required merely to survive. In 1944, while Ingrid is out doing chores, she discovers bodies washed up on the shore. They are from a bombed ship transporting German soldiers and their prisoners of war. Among the bodies, she finds a gravely wounded survivor, Alexander, whom she manages to nurse back to health. Despite speaking different languages, the two communicate through looks and gestures and develop feelings for each other. Harboring a prisoner has dire consequences, but Ingrid risks her life to help Alexander escape.

This is the second in a series after The Unseen, and it is a very challenging book to jump into without reading the first one. Jacobsen’s sparse and raw prose evoke the chaos and despair of war, and his atmospheric descriptions vividly depict the island’s brutal landscape. His brevity does make it difficult to determine what is going on at times, though. The first half of the book is almost entirely Ingrid’s thoughts, and she is such a guarded character that it is difficult to understand what her motivation is or what is happening in the story. Familiarity with the first novel would also help identify some of the characters who appear in the second half of the story.