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Good Reads  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel

The Raven's Nest An Icelandic Journey throught Light and Darkness

Biography / Memoir Nature Writing
By: Sarah Thomas(Author)
336 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Books
The Raven's Nest
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  • The Raven's Nest ISBN: 9781838956714 Paperback Jun 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks
  • The Raven's Nest ISBN: 9781838956684 Hardback Jul 2022 Out of Print #262238
Selected version: £10.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Visiting Iceland as an anthropologist and film-maker in 2008, Sarah Thomas is spellbound by its otherworldly landscape. An immediate love for this country and for Bjarni, a man she meets there, turns a week-long stay into a transformative half-decade, one which radically alters Sarah's understanding of herself and of the living world.

She embarks on a relationship not only with Bjarni, but with the light, the language, and the old wooden house they make their home. She finds a place where the light of the midwinter full moon reflected by snow can be brighter than daylight, where the earth can tremor at any time, and where the word for echo – bergmál – translates as 'the language of the mountain'. In the midst of crisis both personal and planetary, as her marriage falls apart, Sarah finds inspiration in the artistry of a raven's nest: a home which persists through breaking and reweaving – over and over.

Written in beautifully vivid prose The Raven's Nest is a profoundly moving meditation on place, identity and how we might live in an era of environmental disruption.


1. Breaking Up
2. Landing
3. Shift
4. Tónleikar - Concert
5. Fjallafang - Embrace of the Mountains
6. Mataræđi - Diet
7. Gíslholt
8. Seal Wife
9. Ađ smala og ađ slátra - Gathering and Slaughtering
10. Gos - Eruption/Gas/Fizzy Drink
11. Flytja - To Move
12. Krummi - Raven
13. Bogguhús
14. The Frozen Bell
15. A Floating House
16. Trúlofun - Engagement
17. Selur - Seal
18. þakiđ - Roof
19. A Walk in My Valley
20. Göng - Passage/Corridor/Tunnel
21. Ađ snúa - To Turn; Snúiđ - Complicated
22. Innflytjandi - Importer/Immigrant
23. The Strangest Silence
24. Svartfuglsegg - 'Black-bird's-egg'
25. Hvalurinn - The Whale
26. Seljavallalaug - 'Shieling-plains-pool'
27. Herring Adventure
28. To Hell and Back
29. The Raven's Nest
30. Sjóndeildarhringur - Horizon

Customer Reviews


Sarah Thomas is a writer and filmmaker. Her films have been screened internationally, and she is a contributor to the Dark Mountain journal. Her writing has also appeared in the Guardian and the anthology Women on Nature edited by Katharine Norbury.

Biography / Memoir Nature Writing
By: Sarah Thomas(Author)
336 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Media reviews

"A deeply thoughtful, vivid, enquiring, genre-traversing book, closely attentive to the people and the landscapes with which it dwells. It asks hard questions – and offers no easy answers – about what it means to belong to a place, and to live well upon a part of the earth. Sarah's writing – crisp in its details, patient in its rhythms – draws its readers northwards and inwards upon a fascinating journey."
– Robert Macfarlane

"Sarah Thomas' lyrical, thoughtful prose takes us on a journey, both physical and emotional, to the far north."
– Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment

"An insightful, intuitive introduction to Icelandic culture, folklore, mysticism, language and nature."
Times Literary Supplement

"A quiet, generous and beautifully written meditation on what it means to try to belong to a singular culture on the 'edge' of Europe."
Literary Review

"Thomas' writing is the stuff of dreams – not in any whimsical way – rather, in the way of bones and stones; light and dark; hopes and fears. She leads the reader through various portals – from a place of unknowing – to one of hope. This book maps the self, the world and the spaces in between with such tender care. Truly a thing of wonder."
– Kerri ní Dochartaigh, author of Thin Places

"A metamorphic book bursting with ideas and insights about belonging, acceptance, and supernatural joy. A chronicle of Iceland's ever-strange, prismic beauty and the myriad ways it works on the heart."
– Dan Richards, author of Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth

"The Raven's Nest asks what it means to belong to a place from which we do not originate. Anthropological and tender in detail."
– Abi Andrews, author The Word for Woman is Wilderness

"The Raven's Nest is a candid yet beautiful memoir, an homage both to Iceland and a rapidly changing way of life, and a meditation on the constantly shifting nature of human identity. Thomas's evocative prose leaves striking images which glow in the memory long after the reading has ended."
– Katharine Norbury, author of The Fish Ladder

"Sarah Thomas evokes characters and the culture, a sense of time and the landscape in beautiful prose which makes my brain do cartwheels."
– Nancy Campbell, author of The Library of Ice

"The Raven's Nest is about a meeting of worlds. Sarah arrives in Iceland with a 'guest's clear eyes', as Icelanders say. A sincere and perceptive book that explores love, adventure and the search for connections in a big world."
– Andri Snaer Magnason, author of On Time and Water

"A delicate cartography of emotional landscapes as well as place, The Raven's Nest is also a journey into to the heart of our planetary crisis. Beautiful, moving and fascinating."
– Nick Hunt, author of Outlandish

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