The Midnight Sun
By: Cecilia Ekback
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Sweden, 1855. Worst thing I ever saw… The Minister of Justice has received a disturbing message. There’s been a massacre on one of Lapland’s mountains: a priest, a law enforcement officer, and a local settler have been slaughtered by one of the indigenous Sami people. The murderer is in custody, but he refuses to talk. The Minister dispatches his son-in-law, a geologist, to investigate, as there is another reason to visit BlackÂsen: it is a mountain with many secrets, a mountain whose rich mineral deposits have never been exploited. But Magnus does not journey alone. The Minister’s daughter, in disgrace, is sent with him.
The two unlikely companions venture out of the sweltering city to the wild landscape of Sweden’s far north under the strange, insomnia-inducing light of the midnight sun. There, the shocking truth they discover about the murders and what lies behind them will only be matched by what they discover about themselves. For Lovisa and Magnusóand for the people of BlackÂsenó nothing will ever be the same again. In The Month of the Midnight Sun tells a riveting story of the collision of worlds old and new, and cements Ekback’s status as a master of Nordic noir.
I completely forgot but I actually read her first book, Wolf Winter (review), a few years ago. Oops; clearly read too many books at this point :3 Anyway, I picked this book up on a whim (which is something of a rarity these days) and took it with me when I went on holiday a few weeks ago.
I love the atmosphere that this novel evokes, that sense of eerie mystery and distrust both at Blackasen and amongst the characters. I could feel the bleakness of the landscape, the mystery of the mountain and the oddity of it not having been demarcated on the maps.The crime itself was quite horrendous, and there were so many elements about the mystery that’s baffling and eerie that I really found myself working through Magnus and Lovisa’s thinking and investigation.
What also adds to the atmosphere of the book is the dynamic between Magnus and Lovisa, and their own inner turmoils that they’re working through. Magnus is saddled with a nightmare he can’t quite shake, coupled with the burden of sort of passing through his life like something was amiss, something wasn’t quite fully achieved. It’s hard to describe, it’s also been a while since I read it, but the restraint he often shows, the veneer of what is expected of him, always seems to be weighing him down. Lovisa meanwhile is a woman outside of her time, strait-jacketed by social convention and gender norms, unable to express what she really wants, unable to do what she really wants or longs for. So these two characters are thrown together, navigating in their own way but also through their investigation, of their own struggles. Perhaps I found this more interesting than the mystery itself.
The Midnight Sun overall was a fascinating read. While it took me until halfway through my holiday to finally settle in and read the book, once it did it was hard to put the book down.