Winner of the 2016 HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown Award. 'Fans of The Miniaturist will love flashing back to the dark bleakness of 1717 Lapland in Cecilia Ekback's debut.' Grazia A brilliantly written and gripping historical Nordic Noir thriller with all the intrigue and atmosphere of Burial Rites, the pent-up passion of The Piano and the suspense of The Tenderness of Wolves. There are six homesteads on Blackasen Mountain. A day's journey away lies the empty town. It comes to life just once, in winter, when the Church summons her people through the snows.
Then, even the oldest enemies will gather. But now it is summer, and new settlers are come. It is their two young daughters who find the dead man, not half an hour's walk from their cottage. The father is away. And whether stubborn, or stupid, or scared for her girls, the mother will not let it rest. To the wife who is not concerned when her husband does not come home for three days; to the man who laughs when he hears his brother is dead; to the priest who doesn't care; she asks and asks her questions, digging at the secrets of the mountain. They say a wolf made those wounds. But what wild animal cuts a body so clean?
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 432 pages, 1 b&w map
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 12/02/2015
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9781444789515
- Paperback from £7.85
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Review by Xleptodactylous
Maija and Paavo, along with their two daughters Frederika and Dorotea, move across the ice from Finland to Sweden, to settle in to their Uncle's abandoned homestead at the foot of the Blackasen Mountain. It is Winter in Sweden, 1717, and before they have settled, Frederika finds the mutilated corpse of one of the locals and everyone fears that wolves have begun hunting Humans, but what wolf can cause an injury so straight and clean, without causing any other injuries?<br/><br/><br/>This book, I have to say, was quite sublime. It begins with Maija and her family moving and settling in to their new home and meeting all the other homestead owners, including the new priest of the local town, which is empty and unused for all the year except the Yuletide celebrations. There is caged animosity toward Maija and her family at first, but it is mostly veiled and nothing serious. None of the characters particularly tugged at my heartstrings, nor did I identify with them, but I found them all to be well-shaped and never clichéd.<br/><br/>The narrative felt quite jarring at first, because the sentences are short and no words are wasted, so you have to read it quite closely in order to not miss any details. With time you become used to this style and find that it actually fits perfectly with the storyline. The storyline itself was quite slow at first, but around half-way it burst in to a blinding light and suddenly I found myself supremely intrigued. There is an element of magic to the storyline, which counteracts the religious backdrop.<br/><br/>It varies between light and dark the same way that Winter can and I found myself feeling pathetic as I huddled in my duvet against the -0.5 degrees Celsius I was experiencing whilst reading about Maija, Frederika and Dorotea trying to escape the snow drifts as it crept in to their very home.