by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
Around the world: Finland.
Ella Milana is a writer, who is currently teaching literature in the small town of Rabbit Back, but will hopefully move on to bigger better things sometimes soon. She would love to be a published author, and when she is singled out to join the exclusive Rabbit Back Literature Society, it looks like her dreams will come true. Started decades ago by one of Finland’s most famous children’s authors, Laura White, there have been 9 members that Laura nurtured from childhood, who have all become authors. It was widely supposed that there were meant to be ten members. But no new members had been picked to fill the final place, until Ella.
But mysterious things start happening. Laura White stumbles as she comes down stairs at the party to welcome Ella into the society, and a snow storm races through the house. When it stops, Laura has disappeared, never to be found again. There are books which mutate, their story lines changing when no one is looking. The librarian, another member of the society, views it as her quest to stop the book plaque. A group of wild dogs wait out the front of another member’s house, while his back yard is haunted by a phantom. And there is a boy, who everyone has chosen to forget, who was once the 10th member of the society.
Who was the boy? And how did he die? Who really was Laura White, and what happened to her? And how on earth can books change themselves?
Ella decides she is going to find out, and she will use the Rabbit Back Literature Society’s own rules against it. She will take the role of investigative researcher, using the nocturnal practise of “the Game” to ambush and demand the truth from the secretive members of the Society.
I rather likes this book- it was fresh, quirky and mysterious. It was convoluted and odd, and there was suspicion of murders, but it was nothing like the Scandanavian Noire that seems to be filling the market at the moment.
At the end of the book is a twist which I adore. I often don’t like twists, but this one brought with it a sense or rightness- a whole lot of things were thrown in to a completely different light, and made perfect sense. It reiterated the main theme of the book about perception and memory and different points of view, and how they can cloud the truth, and create different stories. Not all is explained though, and the reader is left wondering about a couple of those questions I outlined above. Or perhaps it is intentional, that the reader can choose to form their own opinion; create their own story.