Friday, 23 June 2017

October Is The Coldest Month by Christoffer Carlsson

translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles
review by Maryom

Sixteen year old Vega is at home alone when the police come looking for her older brother Jakob. It's lucky for her really because, not only does she manage to fend off their queries, she avoids any potentially awkward questions from her mother, who will realise that whatever it is that Jakob's become involved in, Vega should have been with him. Vega's desperate to speak to Jakob too, but he's disappeared, and trying to find him only draws Vega further into his troubles ...

Set in rural Sweden, this YA crime novel is grittier and harder-hitting than a lot of fiction aimed at that age group. Vega has been drawn unwittingly into the cover up of what she assumes was a murder, though she doesn't know what has happened to the body, or even whose it was. She's also terrified that both she and her brother could now be in danger. Looking for Jakob brings her into contact with two guys she'd rather avoid - Jakob's best friend to whom she's attracted, and a boy she had a very brief, wholly sexual, relationship with.

A tense, claustrophobic atmosphere pervades the whole book. Vega's home is in an isolated village, the kind of place where everyone knows each other, but doesn't necessarily get along with them, where illicit businesses flourish away from the law, and old feuds don't die but slumber on ready to restart. The houses are scattered, hidden from their neighbour by the surrounding forest, where anyone could be hiding. Add some dark, damp autumnal weather, and you've got the perfect Nordic Noir -style setting. As Vega sets about finding her brother, discovering how much the police know and getting some answers about what actually happened, you won't want to put the book down!

It's a dark, brooding novel, that alongside the crime element deals openly with sex and desire, so definitely one aimed at older teens.

Maryom's review - 4 stars 
Publisher - Scribe

Genre - YA crime thriller

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