Single mother Harpa has always been a misfit. Her physical description is like no other Icelander: so small she self-deprecatingly refers to herself as a dwarf, so dark-skinned she doubts her genetic link to her parents, so strange she nearly believed the children who mistook her for a mythical creature of the forest. Even as an adult, she struggles to make sense of her place in the world. When she sees how her teenage daughter, Edda, has suffered since a friend’s drug overdose, Harpa has no choice but to tear her away from her friends.
Keflavik: a town that has been called the darkest place in Iceland, surrounded by black lava fields, hemmed in by a sea that may not be fished. Its livelihood depends entirely on a US military base, a conduit for American influences that shaped Icelandic culture and ethics from the 1950s to the dawning of the new millennium. It is to Keflavik that Ari - a writer and publisher - returns from Copenhagen at the behest of his dying father, two years after walking out on his wife and children.