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In the Month of the Midnight Sun, in some ways, follows on from Cecilia’s previous book Wolf Winter. It features the same location, the mountain Blackasen, but is set some 150 years later in a different season. The story has three narrators: Magnus, whose father-in-law has sent him on a delicate mission, his sister-in-law Lovisa who is sent along to get her out of town and Ester, a woman from a nomadic group of Sami people, who has recently lost her husband.
Cecilia Ekback creates a gloomy, restless environment. The reader knows that something bad has happened, and probably will shortly happen. The bleak landscape of Lapland provides an oppressive background to the story. Magnus has been sent to survey Blackasen mountain – and at the same time investigate a murder that has taken place. His father in law, a government Minister has sent him on this mission and at the last minute required that he take along his sister-in-law, Lovisa. Magnus is in no position to refuse the inconvenient request.
At the same time, Ester is adjusting to the loss of her husband. There are hints that she is perhaps glad that he is dead, but now uncertain of her place. Her tribe are moving on to another location and Ester is left behind to determine the spot that they will return to next summer.
Lovisa’s accounts were the most fascinating to me. She is a complex character, and she and her father are at odds. Lovisa often gets close to an analysis of an event or character – and then it is interrupted by her habit of stealing items.
I found the multiple narratives initially challenging, as the different characters are so focused on different aspects of the events that it is hard to know in a sense how reliably they are documenting the events. However, there is an overarching narrative theme of ‘mapping’ – and the real life mapping quest is mirrored in different ways by each character. You get a sense of everyone in the story being driven to Blackasen village with a strong sense of inevitability.
There are many complexities to this story, and it requires a focused read. It is though rewarding, and I have been left pondering the story and characters for some time.
Reviewed by Emma Rutherford
In the Month of the Midnight Sun
by Cecilia Ekback
Published by Hodder & Stoughton