Cover image for Wolf winter : a novel
Title:
Wolf winter : a novel
Author:
Ekbäck, Cecilia, 1971- , author.
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Weinstein Books, [2015]

©2015
Physical Description:
370 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
"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 Blackåsen, 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 Blackåsen. 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" --
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781602862524
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A compelling historical thriller set in 1700s Sweden from an exciting new literary talent. "Exquisitely suspenseful, beautifully written, and highly recommended."
-Lee Child "Visually acute, skillfully written; it won't easily erase its tracks in the reader's mind."
- Hilary Mantel "Wolf winter,'" she said, her voice small. "I wanted to ask about it. You know, what it is."
He was silent for a long time. "It's the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal," he said. "Mortal and alone."

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 Blackåsen, 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 Blackåsen. 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.


Author Notes

Cecilia Ekbäck was born in Sweden in a small northern town. Her parents come from Lapland. In Wolf Winter , her first novel, she returns home to the landscape and the characters of her childhood. Ekbäck is a Professional Member of PEN American Center. She lives in Calgary with her husband and twin daughters.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Ekbäck's thrilling debut, part historical fiction, part murder mystery, part supernatural chiller, takes place in Lapland in 1717. Resourceful Maija; her emotionally fragile husband, Paavo; and their two daughters, Frederika and Dorotea, have left their native Finland to settle in rural Sweden. They are hoping for a new start, but, almost immediately, Frederika stumbles on the badly mutilated body of a neighbor. The villagers are convinced it was a wolf attack, but Maija suspects murder. As paranoia and suspicion take root, Maija continues to investigate, though her inquiries are met with resistance from both her neighbors and the church, which wields considerable authority. Meanwhile, Maija is ill prepared for the brutal winter, one of the harshest in memory, which has her frantically storing food and supplies to withstand the onslaught of snow and cold. And looming over the village is the specter of Blackasen Mountain, which seems to harbor a malevolent spirit. Like Hannah Kent in Burial Rites (2013), Ekbäck evokes the forbidding landscape and the inclement weather in beautiful prose while also crafting a layered, suspenseful story. Perhaps the richest gift of the many riches on display here, though, is Maija, a brave, intelligent woman whose skill and persistence bring closure to a suffering community.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in 1717, Ekbäck's diverting debut focuses on a Finnish family-Maija Harmaajärvi; her husband, Paavo; and their daughters, 14-year-old Frederika and six-year-old Dorotea-as they start a new life in Swedish Lapland. One day while herding goats, the girls discover a body. Their neighbors believe the dead man, Eriksson, was killed by wolves or a bear, but Maija is convinced that he was murdered and aims to prove it. Ekbäck does a good job depicting a terrifying snowstorm, the conflicting cultures of settlers and Lapps, and the endless winter darkness. But the novel also contains a disorienting mix of obsolete words and current phrasing, realistic glimpses of pioneer hardships, and far-fetched plot devices involving the local bishop and a pack of wolves that may or may not exist. Two resident ghosts-Maija's grandmother, who constantly offers advice, and the reincarnated Eriksson, who prods Frederika to unearth his killer-add to the incongruity. Agents: Janelle Andrews and Rachel Mills, Peters, Fraser & Dunlop (U.K.). (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Maija and her family move from their native Finland to Swedish Lapland in the summer of 1717, hoping for a fresh start. That dream is shattered when Maija's oldest daughter, Frederika, discovers the mutilated body of a fellow settler on nearby Blackasen Mountain. While the community insists a wolf is to blame, Maija is convinced he was murdered, and her investigation triggers events that will change their lives forever. As a harsh winter sets in and the settlers struggle to survive, Maija becomes entangled in the secrets, past tragedies, and religion of her neighbors and the native Lapps. Both Maija and Frederika are at once guided and tormented by the spirits of the dead, as they each attempt to solve the murder. VERDICT Swedish-born debut author Ekback writes with deliberate pacing and immerses the reader in the endless snowfall of winter with her hypnotic prose. The novel will appeal to readers who like their historical fiction dark and atmospheric, or mystery fans who are open to mysticism and unconventional sleuths. Readers who enjoyed the winter landscape and magical realism of Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child may also want to try this. [See "Editors' Fall Picks," LJ 9/1/14.]-Emily Byers, Tillamook Cty. Lib., OR (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.