Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton from whom I received an e-copy of this book, via NetGalley. I had to request it after seeing the ‘blurb’:
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.
Burial Rites and The Tenderness of Wolves have been two of my best reads over the last couple of years so if this was anything like those then I was sure to enjoy it.
In Swedish Lapland during the 18th Century, a “Wolf Winter” is a terrible thing, the usual cold and darkness of the Arctic Circle is made even worse by extreme snow and winds. It is during one of these cruel seasons that Maijia, a recent settler on the Blackasen mountain, finds herself alone with her two daughters and determined to uncover who was responsible for the brutal murder of a local, unpopular man. She befriends the local Priest, who is scarred by war and has been ejected from the Royal Court by his beloved King. Her eldest daughter Frederika is also desperate to solve the mystery and becomes possessed by the spirits of the mountain, seeking help from the traditional Lapp people.
I really enjoyed this book, but there was something about it I didn’t love. It had all the right ingredients; historical fiction, murder mystery, the power of nature, the role of women, elements of magic and the supernatural… but I just didn’t find it ‘unputdownable’ like I did with Burial Rites or The Tenderness of Wolves, as mentioned above. It is dark, suspenseful and intriguing with an interesting cast of characters and a unique setting. The writing is good, I found the snowstorm scene particularly compelling. And yet… I think the biggest let down for me was the ending which, after the slow pace and insistent build up of tension throughout the rest of the novel, got wrapped up a little too quickly as if the author felt she had to answer all the questions posed but didn’t want to write any more. Still, a good read and I would recommend.