Well now, this one is a bit special.

Readers of this blog will know that I am very fond of John Ajvide Lindqvist having read and reviewed his Swedish vampire novel (Let the Right One In) followed by his Swedish zombie novel (Handling the Undead) both of which were about considerably more than the tags I’ve given them here. Both were about love and relationships and harbour is in many ways no different, though I haven’t yet been able to come up with a suitable Swedish tag for it.

There is a tiny wee story behind this, in that having persuaded my friend Silvery Dude to try Lindqvist  he has been racing ahead and actually read this some months before I did. he recommended that I save this until the autumn, which is why I took it with me to berlin on my recent trip. It felt right to be reading this story in a more European setting than good old Surrey, and his recommendation and my instinct were both correct.

So, Harbour tells the story of a community, Domaro, which makes its living from the sea and from the summer visitors who have built houses there. Our entry to the community is through Anders who has a foot in both camps. One winter day he and his wife take their little girl, Maja, out onto the thick ice to visit the local lighthouse. They only look away for a few minutes, but in that short time every parents nightmare occurs; Maja has disappeared. There are no holes in the ice, nowhere that she could have gone, and despite searching high and low with the help of their neighbours, Maja can’t be found.

Two years later, his marriage destroyed and dependent on alcohol, Anders returns to Domaro determined to find out what happened. At this point we are also introduced to Simon, a stage magician and the partner of Anders’ grandmother. As strange events begin to occur and the secrets of Domaro begin to be revealed, Simon comes to understand that despite the number of years he has spent there he is very much an outsider. Between them he and Anders begin to unpick, albeit accidentally at times, what has been lurking underneath daily life.

I really, really enjoyed this novel. As in his previous books, Lindqvist shows great skill in describing strong emotions such as love, grief, betrayal and anger. His characters are fully rounded (my favourite was Simon) and I really wanted to know how they would get through the events which unfolded. The introduction of the supernatural elements (I’m not sure how else to describe them) builds up slowly and by the time some of the more bizarre incidents take place I was really invested in the story. How the community came to collude in and rely on the secret at its heart was all too plausible. If weird.

I agree whole heartedly with the comment on the cover “a third consecutive masterpiece”; so much so that I have already got a hold of his fourth novel, Little Star.

Strongly recommended.

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