In their remote Viking settlement, Folkvi and her brother Aslakr have always been unnaturally close. They've grown more intimate still as Folkvi learns her shaman mother's craft and men regard her with newly devouring eyes. Then illness carries off their parents, and the nest of home is shattered. Aslakr sets off on his first expedition, abandoning Folkvi to the dark of an endless winter. When he returns, he's done the unthinkable: he's found someone else to love.
The narrative darts back and forth through time within the two sections. This is also true of the prose style, which, in Aitkin’s translation, places vocabulary seemingly intended to evoke ancient times alongside figures of speech and dialogue plucked right out of the twenty-first century. Similarly, Folkví relays a simultaneous self-consciousness and self-love that might resonate with contemporary readers.
The constant thread of delight in the natural world’s magic and awe in the face of its total domination of mortal lives weaves through every sentence of the sublimely described setting. This is so well achieved that the slender chapter bridging the period that passes between the siblings’ stories... serves to underscore the reality of their mystic lives rather than excuse or explain the novel’s forays into mythological fantasy.