Synopsis: Nyradur Njalsson is a cryptozoologist, searching for a mythological snake in Iceland’s Lagar River. Aldis, a dwarf helps her with her copper-red submarine.
This is her last chance to get a proof of the snake. Her equipment is getting eaten away by the highly corrosive river, poisoned by an aluminum plant. She needs a biological proof, or a photo, or at least another witness testifying the snake to turn it from an unseen cryptid to a proven “wonderbeast”. Tourists and money would follow, and her research would surely be funded.
But so far, she has seen only a couple of demonstrative indications.
Now, she starts her last dive, targeting a place she believes to be the beast’s lair.
Review: As far as I found out, this is the first story by the Islandic author available in English. Several novels have been published before in Islandic, but I can’t read that. So, this is the disadvantage of learning about a fantastic new author from around the world.
The setting featuring cryptozoology and Nordic folklore like dwarves and elves entering an alternative Earth brings a lot of fun and sense of wonder. They are not distant but part of peoples’ life, one of them is even the companion of our main protagonist. This feels a lot like Urban Fantasy, but it isn’t as there is no city around. All happens in Iceland’s wilderness around the famous river.
I don’t know if the story plays in a kind of steampunk age or if it’s just alternate reality. That doesn’t really matter, because I just want to read a whole novel of this great teaser. Alas, there are three books available starting with Víghólar (Crimson Hills), but all of them only in Icelandic. One can only hope for a translation.
The only thing I couldn’t figure out was why it was included in “Best of World SF” – there is absolutely nothing of SF in it.