I didn’t get to hear Camilla Lackberg speak at the Sydney Writer’s Festival in May, but with Clare Wright’s book “The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka” already tucked under my arm, I spied the cover, read the blurb, and decided I could definitely afford to spend an extra $25 on a book.
I think it was the setting of “an idyllic island of the Swedish coast” that hooked me. I haven’t read any books set in Sweden before so something new. Of course, “dried blood is found under the floorboards of an old house…” certainly helped to lure me in. I’m a sucker for old houses. Surely stories are soaked into every layer of paint or wallpaper, every brick, and every beam of wood….
But enough of that and back to the novel that I’m attempting to review.
It didn’t start well. I couldn’t quite get a grip on the first couple of chapters. I wasn’t sure if the translation to English worked as well as it could, there were so many characters, and trying to pronounce the unfamiliar words/names (even in my head) was putting me off the story. I left it for a week or two, and last night, with some time to spare, I picked it up and decided to try again (after all, I’d spent $25 on this).
Coming home to an empty house (highly unusual), I put the bath on, poured a glass of wine and definitely set the mood to while away 30 to 40 minutes reading. When the water went cold, I jumped out, quickly dried and rugged up (it’s winter here in Australia) and curled up in a corner of the lounge to read some more. At some point, family members came home, I threw dinner at them, ate myself (thank god, hubby put the slow cooker on before he went to work. All I had to do was dish up.), and then continued reading until 12:30 when, eyes bleary, I closed the book on the last page.
I was drawn in quickly, but I needed to allow time to get past the little roadblocks (already mentioned). You may read Buried Angels and not experience the same reaction as I did, but that’s okay. Everyone’s experience is different.
Now, onto the story: It’s a bit of a thriller, a bit of a treatise perhaps on the different ways people deal with grief, and a bit of historical fiction. I loved it! In between the covers we have modern Sweden, 1930s Germany/Sweden, highly dysfunctional families, an isolated boarding school in the 1970s, and so many secrets it will make your head spin!
The characters I connected with the most were the sisters, Erika and Anna. I was a little surprised; here were two fictional characters who felt pretty much the same as me about certain things. I don’t know a thing about the author, but already I want to meet her. She knows about fear; personal fear, little fears, and she knows about relations. Oh, does she know about this. I want to know more about what Ms Lackberg knows.
The background stories, of which there seemed to be many, slowly came together into one story and knitted together so well that, rather than be surprised, I was nodding (figuratively not literally) and thinking, “of course!”.
Ms Lackberg’s characters are well-rounded “real” people (I do love a well-rounded real person) and the scenes were realistic. I’ve watched a lot of tv crime and read quite a few crime stories and the scenes in this story were pleasantly far from the sometimes “plastic” and one dimensional renditions currently being offered.
On the back cover, The Guardian quote is, “Expert at mixing scenes of domestic cosiness with blood-curdling horror.”
I think I have to agree.