Book review: The Christmas Lights

This feature is in association with NetGalley.

The Christmas Lights, Karen Swan
Thanks to NetGalley and to Pan Macmillan for an advance copy of The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan.

This story begins in 1930s rural Norway, then skips to the present-day South Pacific. It jumps back to the fjords, and then we’re in present-day Norway.

It follows two sets of characters: a bunch of milkmaids and goatherds in the Norwegian countryside; and a trio of vloggers dashing from one continent to another just in time for Christmas.

Signy is the goatherd; Bo and Zac are the darlings of Instagram.

Although I found the chopping and changing around a bit confusing – it wasn’t clear from the ebook when there was a change in character viewpoint – I found the double storylines and the history intriguing.

I thought the vloggers got from the South Pacific to Scandinavia a bit sharpish, and I thought they were very rude when they arrived at their destination. But then I found their hosts Signy and Anders quite rude too.

I wouldn’t want to stay at their holiday cottage at all, and I wouldn’t want Bo, Zac and Lenny as my guests either. Not only were they ill-mannered, they were also incredibly pampered. Bo also turned out to be quite gullible.

So, not one of the characters appealed to me. I even thought the additional character of Anna to be quite wooden and unnecessary. I found all of the characters unlikeable, and therefore didn’t care what happened to them.

HOWEVER … what I did enjoy was the beautiful Norwegian setting. I’d never heard of a shelf farm before. I don’t think I’d fancy hauling myself up a vertical ladder hammered into the side of a cliff with only freezing water beneath me, and I’m not sure my arms would pull me up either. So kudos to them! And I didn’t know about the natural disasters that happen every so often in the fjords.

I was interested to read about the vloggers and how they worked as I watch vlogs myself. So all of this was fascinating. And the book, too, is very well written and, I presume, very well researched. Plus, there was a lot of snow, and I love snow.

I’m afraid I guessed who the creep was, and I knew instantly who it wasn’t. That was all a bit pat. But generally, I enjoyed reading the book, even if I didn’t like anyone very much.