review · Sweden · Translated

The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin

darkest roomThe Darkest Room by Johan Theorin, translated by Marlaine Delargy

Doubleday, 2009

Originally published as Nattfåk, 2008

I bought my copy of this book.

I’ve read more Swedish books than books set any other country this year besides the United States. This is book 7, and my second Theorin novel, and also this is the second book of the Öland quartet. Öland is a Baltic island, and this particular story takes place on the northwest coast of the island at Eel Point, home to two lighthouses and a haunted manor house. It’s a great setting for a story: an isolated coastal home with a history of deaths. Eels disturb me to because they are so much like snakes. And Theorin mentions things like a sacrificial peat bog on the island just to up the strangeness of the story.  It’s simply the most matter-of-fact ghost story I’ve read, and I like the style because I haven’t seen it/ read it lots of times. Additionally, the harsh weather was more frightening to me than the ghosts were creepy.

The story centers on Joakim and his family. His wife Katrine moved from the Stockholm suburbs to Eel Point with her two young children while her husband finished teaching for the school year. Her family has ties to Eel Point: her mother and grandmother lived there when her mother was a teenager, and her grandmother painted a series of famous and missing blizzard pictures. The story weaves stories of the past into the story of the present. After Katrine dies shortly after Joakim moves to Eel Point, he reads the stories of other deaths at Eel Point over many years in a book that his mother-in-law wrote. I was frustrated by how little I learned about Katrine throughout the book: she is really not the focus of the story while her grieving husband is.

The connecting thread in the series is not only the island and the sea but the character of Gerlof Davidsson. His grandniece Tilda is the main police character in this story, and she has, true to form, have a complicated personal life and is an accomplished young police officer. His family history is another thread of the story, and he’s a great character.

This is one of my favorite series.

 

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