Wednesday 12 July 2017

Book review : The Darkest Room - Johan Theorin

The strapline on the front of the book says : "In a still, dark house, someone is dead. An accident? Or murder?". The manor house at Eel Point has actually borne witness to a number of deaths though, throughout the centuries. Positioned in between twin lighthouses on the small Swedish island of Öland, its inhabitants and neighbours have had to contend with everything from severe blizzards and frozen seas to shipwrecks.

When Katrine and Joakim Westin move in with their two children, it isn't long before they start hearing ghostly mumblings in the wind and their daughter seems to speak with people in her sleep. The discovery of a hidden prayer room, complete with names carved into the wooden walls and relics left in honour of the dead, adds further fuel to the speculation that they are not the only residents of the manor house, albeit the only living ones.

Meanwhile, Tilda Davidsson, fresh out of college, takes up a position as pretty much the only police officer in the region. Far from the worry-free sinecure, filled with nothing more taxing than traffic offences, that she could have expected, she soon learns of a string of robberies on the island's summer residences. Then Katrine Westin drowns in mysterious circumstances.

Both Joakim and Katrine seek to uncover the truth, each with their own very divergent methods. Katrine uses her detective skills, along with the input of an elderly uncle who has lived on the island all his life and knows many of its secrets, while Joakim thinks that the answers will be revealed by convening with the dead. 

Part ghost story, part crime fiction, 100% thriller, it is an intriguing, atmospheric novel that kept me gripped right up until its high-octane ending. While certain scenes lacked realism - for example, the seemingly indestructible Tilda carrying on her policework after having an axe thrown at her head and Joakim repeatedly heading out to the barn at night, leaving his two children all alone in the house when he knows that his daughter is unsettled in her sleep - the novel as a whole is well thought out and believable. I loved the way stories of the island's past were woven into the present, giving an overview of its frequently tragic history.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99 (I picked it up for £1 at The Works)

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (29 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552774618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552774611
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 19.8 cm


  1. Oooh sounds intriguing definitely one to keep an eye out for xx

  2. This sounds interesting. Will keep an eye out for it x


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