I wasn’t quite sure whether I should post the following review, as my response is very negative and I don’t like putting that out there in the world. Then again, I set out with the goal to document all the books read in The Read Around the World Book Club, which I am a part of on goodreads. So, I shall go ahead and remember this is my personal opinion only, to why the book didn’t work for me. I know there are many people out there who really enjoy Camila Lackberg’s books, I am just not one of them.
When I found out that October was to be Scandinavian crime month, I was quite excited as I’ve never read any of this genre despite being utterly in love with Scandinavia. I tend not to like contemporary crime as a rule and I get the impression that Scandinavian crime is often very dark and hard hitting. But this year is very much about broadening my reading horizons and the Swedish setting was a winner before I even opened the book. A writer returning to her home town after her parents’ death, a childhood friend, who has seemingly taken her own life, a small Swedish town with a dark secret and a rather lovely local detective as the love interest. On paper, this looked really good. However…
I shall try my best to keep my thoughts concise and stick to my top five reasons why I only gave this a 1 star on Goodreads (I would have dnf-ed this book, however I did want to know how the story ended).
1. My biggest issue is that this book felt like it was trying to be something it isn’t. It is marketed as a hard hitting, shocking literary crime novel but it just doesn’t meet this description. It felt lack lustre, leaning towards the cosy (think Midsommer Murders) with language sporadically thrown in to shock (which just felt awkward). The quality wasn’t there for me either.
2. The female characters are largely dislikeable and often portrayed in a stereotypical way. I was really disappointed as there was such potential for complex, strong female characters in this storyline.
3. The portrayal of alcoholism and mental health are two dimensional and extremely stereotypical in nature. Quite honestly, this kind of writing makes me feel angry as it reinforces primitive, negative viewpoints-something our society does not need more of!
4. Apart from the description of snow and standard Swedish baked goods, I didn’t get a sense of being in Sweden as I read. Sigh. I kept hoping.
5. So much telling. So little showing.
I feel that I can’t just leave the Scandinavian crime genre with this feeling of disappointment and sheer negativity, so I have ordered another book from our book club choices (which, indecently, I voted for). Fingers crossed that Last Rituals restores my faith in this genre!