Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms BlackAsen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow. While herding the family's goats on the mountain, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors, Eriksson. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. Compelled to investigate despite her neighbors' strange disinterest in the death and the fate of Eriksson's widow, Maija is drawn into the dark history of tragedies and betrayals that have taken place on BlackAsen. Young Frederika finds herself pulled towards the mountain as well, feeling something none of the adults around her seem to notice. As the seasons change, and the "wolf winter", the harshest winter in memory, descends upon the settlers, Paavo travels to find work, and Maija finds herself struggling for her family's survival in this land of winter-long darkness. As the snow gathers, the settlers' secrets are increasingly laid bare. Scarce resources and the never-ending darkness force them to come together, but Maija, not knowing who to trust and who may betray her, is determined to find the answers for herself. Soon, Maija discovers the true cost of survival under the mountain, and what it will take to make it to spring.
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So atmospheric, it hurts
Gripping tale, well executed
I appreciated the narrator helping me pronounce some of Swedish words that I was unaccustomed to, but over all no, not better. About the same. Bresnahan did a great job reading the story and I was certainly enthralled, but I don't think she added anything to it that wasn't already on the page.
Toss up between Fredericka and the Priest, neither of whom impressed me much for the first half of the book, but both really came into their own by the end.
Great story. The pacing is slow and deliberate for the first three-quarters of the book. At times almost painfully slow. But events start snowballing (pardon the pun) into a rush of revelations at the end. Others have griped about this, but I found that perfectly in line with standard mystery plots. While this story feels more like historical fiction, it is, at its heart, a mystery to be solved.
- Watery M