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  • Location: Reykjavik

Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was

Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was

Why a Booktrail?

1918: A volcano erupts as the war in Europe rumbles ever louder..

  • ISBN: 978-1473613157
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

Reykjavik, 1918. The eruptions of the Katla volcano darken the sky. Yet despite the natural disaster, the shortage of coal and the Great War still raging in the outside world, life in the small capital goes on as always.

Sixteen-year-old Máni Steinn lives for the movies. Awake, he lives on the fringes of society.

When the Spanish flu epidemic comes ashore, killing hundreds of townspeople and forcing thousandsmore to their sick beds, Máni is forced to re-evaluate both the society around him and his role in it.


Travel Guide

Katla volcano

As of 2016, there has been no eruptions of this volcano since the one highlighted in the novel – 1918 when apparently five times more ash was produced than its neighbouring volcano – Eyjafjallajökull – in 2010.  Dormancy in a volcano is often a source of worry as two of Katla’s previous eruptions have followed eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull.

There is thought now that the volcano may well erupt soon.

The Einar Jónsson Museum

People are gathering here the night the volcano erupts. An impressive gallery to go into volcano or not!

The  world of cinema

Kenneth Macpherson, Robert Herring and Annie Ellerman (Bryher) are all characters in this novel where Icelandic film and cinema reveal the thin line of fact and fiction


This is a dark and sad tour of Reykvanik – but there is a magical tour of a kind as well in the number of films the boy goes to see and the role of the cinema in his life.  He watches all the films that are imported to Iceland. “As a rule, he goes to both cinemas on the same day and sees most films as often as he can” He is interested in everything and anything that he can use to escape his world and his existence. The Varangians, a scout troup he joins, also allows him to become someone else.

“He’d had no inkling that when the pestilence took hold reykjavik would empty and convey the impression that nothing was happening at all; that the town would become an abandoned set that he, máni steinn, could envisage as the backdrop for whatever sensational plot he cared to devise, or, more accurately, for the kind of sinister events that in a film would be staged in this sort of village of the damned—for these days the real stories are being acted out behind closed doors. and they are darker than a youthful mind can begin to imagine”

Streetview Maps

A) Volcano country close to Katla volcano
D) Reykjavik - Miðstræti - where the boy lives

Booktrailer Review


Sjón is a very renowned writer in his homeland of Iceland and so I was very interested in reading this novel.  It’s a short snapshot of a young gay boy growing up in Reykjavik. The first few pages shall I say are a very graphic introduction to Máni and what he does every day to survive. This might be the first graphic scene but it would be the last.

How he survives his every day, is to escape into films and this is the world he prefers to inhabit. His is an existence, not a life, a reflection of how he is and what he feels others thing of him.

Whilst his life, the foreground was a;arming and tragic, the background – with its historical events and Spanish Flu epidemic gave the novel a real grounding. This is a country, a city, on the edge. The result of the volcano erupting is a real historical event which really manages to interplay with the inner turmoil of Máni and his life experiences. Disasters which splutter shame and regret around him.

This is a quiet and disturbing novel in many ways – a way to make us think just how those living on the margins of society, those like Máni are viewed and treated, the ‘scourge’ of being gay and the onset of diseases such as Spanish flu, aids and similar.

There’s a lot to see and discuss from this novel. It opens up a number of issues – but reads like a mirror, filled with mist and fog showing the poignancy of lives lived on the edges of the reflection. This short novel lingers long after reading it.

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:  Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was

Author/Guide: Sjón Destination: Reykjavik  Departure Time: 1918

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