Children in Reindeer Woods

Author of Review: 

Children in Reindeer Woods

(Hér, 2004)

With its lyricism, detached narration and mystifying warzone setting, this slim novel, a fable about the absurdities of war, bears witness to Kristín Ómarsdóttir’s extensive career as a poet and a playwright.

After a massacre at the children’s home where she resides, an eleven-year-old orphan girl named Billie is forced to live as a daughter to Rafael, one of the soldiers responsible for the killings. Rafael claims to want to swap his life of soldiering for a peaceful existence as a farmer and wants Billie to accompany him and assist him in this idyllic pursuit. Still, it turns out that Rafael is willing to do anything to secure his peace, and even forces Billie at gunpoint to play with her dolls like a normal child.

Gradually, however, the violent and troubled soldier starts to take on the role of Billie’s guardian, displacing her absent parents and creating a sense of family and home for the two of them. Even so, he is quick to resort to murder and violence on occasion, in order to protect the sanctuary that he has found with Billie as his daughter.