The start of the spring brought me fiction and poetry – a welcome respite after March’s intense non-fiction. Although not exactly seasonal, both of these books have inspired me to write more (and better) and to get out of my literary comfort zone.
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In the month of the midnight sun (2016)
by Cecelia Ekbäck
I found this moody treasure in Hay’s crime bookshop, Murder & Mayhem. Since I’m not very well versed in crime literature, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. Nonetheless, Cecelia Ekbäck’s novel set in northern Sweden was an inspiring box of surprises.
The story follows Magnus, Lovisa and Biija/Esther as they orbit around a village in the middle of the Swedish Lapland where a horrible murder has shaken its inhabitants. The writing is superb, particularly the descriptions of the surroundings and the genuinely unique voices of each character. Reading will transport you right back to 19th century Sweden and will make you hungry to visit. There’s nothing that pleases me more as a travel addict and writer than a book that teases my travel bug.
But. And it’s rather sad that there’s a but to this book. The plot developed slowly and the characters motivations were unclear. There are a few juicy plot twists, although they felt forced and I struggled to see the significance to the story overall.
More than just a crime/horror story, In the month of the midnight sun also finds a way to discuss race and sexuality in a context where authors often fall into white heteronormative tropes. I did feel the Ekbäck could have been more upfront, but nonetheless, it brought depth to each character.
I enjoyed it, truly, and I may read more from this universe in the future. Not one of my favourites, unfortunately.
Bright travellers (2014)
by Fiona Benson
Poetry is such a foreign genre to me. I press on and hope that one day I’ll come to understand it so I read Bright Travellers, Fiona Benson’s debut collection was wonderful.
Benson explores pre-historian Devon in a discussion of shared history with nature. Then she moves on to a series of love letters to Vincent Van Gogh before finishing with a heartfelt account of her experience with miscarriage and having a child.
I’d recommend this collection purely for the love letters. Each one had me on the verge of tears and they are such a realistic description of what it’s like to be in love with someone who’s spiralling into despair.