The Casket of Time

Year: 2019
Genre: Narrative Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Highlights
Pages: 320
Translation: 32 languages

When things are looking bad and economists predict a massive financial crisis, Sigrun’s family is lucky – they can crawl into their black caskets and wait for better times. But one day, her casket opens and she is confronted by an abandoned city in ruins, with everyone stuck in black caskets waiting for things to get better.

Sigrun meets a strange old lady in a house full of children and archaeological artefacts. The old lady tells them a story of a greedy king who conquered the world but yearned to conquer time. With a magical casket, transparent like glass but made of spidersilk, with such a dense weave that even time cannot penetrate the walls, the king can spare his beautiful princess the rainy days, the normal days and the worthless days.

One day a small boy opens the casket and the princess discovers that 20 years have passed, the kingdom is crumbling and the king has gone mad. There seems to be a connection of
some sort between the old woman’s story and Sigrun’s world. She and her friends must find the link, which will hopefully show them how to fix the world.


  • The Icelandic Literary Prize, for Children and Young People’s Books
  • The West-Nordic Literature Prize 2013
  • Nomination for The Nordic Council Children and Young People‘s Literature Prize
  • Reykjavik Children’s Literature Prize 2014
  • Icelandic Booksellers‘ Prize as best teenage book of the year

“… I loved this book so much — it is a cerebral tale, well told and unabashedly philosophical. It is dark, funny and grim. … the central message of the book is clear, and it’s welcome. Greed hurts us; power ruins us; and time has never been our enemy. Indeed, Magnason reminds us, as long as our tendency toward self-destruction doesn’t get in the way, time is the earth’s, and humanity’s, greatest healer.”
— Kelly Barnhill, The New York Times

„I have not previously seen the fairy tale genre so well tied up with a sci-fi story, a fantasy tale and a contemporary drama all at once. It really is elegant and full of surprises. I am therefore not at all surprised that the book has already won a few awards in Iceland. It would not surprise me if it also won the Nordic Council Children and Young People‘s Literature Prize.“
— Weekendavisen, Denmark

“In The Casket of Time, present, future and past are interwoven with a fantasy world familiar to all but which no-one has inhabited. Within its compelling tapestry of facts, truth, magic and wonder Magnason poses urgent questions about the lifestyles and values of present-day Western society, and about the responsibility each of us bears for the state of the world. The story confronts the concept of time and twists old fairy-tale memories with a passionate creativity. Magnason is one of Iceland’s most dynamic writers of recent years, a fierce social critic who frequently combines clear-cut messages with humour. He has often taken the authorities and big business to task in his writings, and The Casket of Time is no exception in that respect.”
— The Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize – an excerpt from the Icelandic selection committee’s citation of The Casket of Time

“Magnason has created an intimate epic that floats effortlessly between genres as diverse as fairy tale and political commentary, science fiction and social realism. The Casket of Time spans the chasm between “once upon a time” and “have you heard the news today” in a way that makes his philosophical fable feel both timely and timeless.”
— Danish architect and futurist Bjarke Ingels, often cited as one of the most inspirational architects of our time

“An entertaining and imaginative book … I doubt there is a better Icelandic children’s book on the market this year.”
— Kolbrun Bergthorsdottir, Kiljan, National Broadcasting Service

“A new book by Andri Snær Magnason is always big news, and his fans have had to wait far too long since his last one. Their patience has been amply rewarded with the arrival of The Casket of Time, an extremely entertaining fairy tale, brimming with imagination, that spirits the reader away into an unknown world, both mesmerising and frightening. … Magnason is a highly entertaining storyteller, and the tale swirls with memorable images, themes both original and familiar, strong characters, and a thrilling plot. …The message that we need to act no later than now is clear, and yet The Casket of Time does not preach in the slightest – Magnason is much too skilled a writer to do that. The maxim of adventure rules here, and readers of all ages will easily forget time and place as they read. Conclusion: A sparkling and entertaining adventure story in two time eras with a clear moral which, however, never turns into a sermon.”
— Fridrika Benonysdottir, Frettabladid

****1/2 (four and a half stars out of five)
“… The Casket of Time is, above all, an extremely entertaining read. Here, just as in The Story of The Blue Planet, Magnason succeeds in telling a very entertaining story, a fairy tale that encapsulates a powerful and haunting message without any hint of preaching. With his customary effortless style he puts old remembered fairy tales into new context to create a plotline that is at times thrilling. This demonstrates yet again that Magnason is one of our very best storytellers.”
— Anna Lilja Thorisdottir, Morgunbladid daily

“Here we have a timeless fairy tale, and Magnason’s depiction of this magical world is magnificently well realized.”
— Jon Bjarki Magnusson, DV daily

“The largest box of chocolate written in the Icelandic language that I have ever laid my hands on… This is confectionery for the mind! Wow! It is so good that I forgot to make notes … This is a book for the 3 year old, the 30 year old, the 300 year old.”
— Audur Haraldsdóttir, Channel2, National Radio

“… utterly gripping.”
— Vera Knutsdottir, (Reykjavik City Library)

1 thought on “The Casket of Time”

  1. Pingback: Episode 96: Fall 2018 Book Buzz | Bellwether Friends

Leave a Reply