I very much enjoyed Cecilia Ekbäck's debut novel Wolf Winter a few months ago, and as it has just come out in paperback I wanted to mention it again.
It's an accomplished, atmospheric piece set in Swedish Lapland in 1717, and it's multi-faceted, being a murder mystery, an exploration of a remote place and distant time, and a fable-like piece of literary fiction.
As I said of it on publication:
Joining a small group of settlers on forbidding Blackåsen Mountain is a family of Finnish incomers. When young Frederika discovers a neighbour’s mutilated body on the mountainside one day, the death is at first put down to a wolf attack, but Frederika’s mother Maija – an ‘earth-woman’ or healer – is sure it was a man’s hand at work.
As harsh winter approaches, Maija tries to uncover the truth about the killing, her search for answers to the many questions raised by it revealing the secrets each Blackåsen family has brought with them and tried to hide, and putting the lives of both her daughters at risk as she unwittingly exposes them to dangers both natural and unnatural.
"Like a silent fall of snow; suddenly, the reader is enveloped ... visually acute, skilfully written; it won't easily erase its tracks in the reader's mind." So says Hilary Mantel, and she's right.