* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Release Date: February 9th 2017
Summary (from Goodreads):
We are the trees. We are the snow.
We are the winter.
We are the peace. We are the rage.
Cut off from civilization by the harsh winter of northern Sweden, the Stromberg family shelter in their old plantation house. There are figures lurking in the ancient pine forests and they’re closing in. With nothing but four walls between the Strombergs and the evil that’s outside, they watch and wait for the snows to melt.
But in the face of signs that there’s an even greater danger waiting to strike, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish reality from illusion. All they’ve got to do is stay sane and survive the winter…
I love the Red Eye series of young adult horror books – when I first started reading these they were something really different for me and I loved it. 2 years on and I still get excited when a new one comes out – with this one I was lucky enough to get an invite only download on NetGalley, so thank you so much to Stripes for the copy!
The setting for this book is very creepy. Isolation is a big thing in horror and Fir does it perfectly: the Stromberg family move to an old plantation house in a forest, cut off from civilization by distance, no internet, and harsh winter weather. The group of children studying the trees there leave for winter after a tragic accident and the family are left with just the creepy old maid Dorothea for company.
The novel built atmosphere well, not only with the isolation but the heavy presence of the trees and the unease as the family grows distant and starts to fall apart. The dad is determined to stay put and make things work, the mum is increasingly depressed and the child keeps seeing wolves and children outside in the snow. Dorothea tells them about the varulv, a forest spirit fused between a human and a wolf.
My main gripe with the book was that I didn’t connect with the main character. They were snarky and moody and quite typically teenage, but I didn’t feel they had much in the way of redeeming qualities. While I liked the story, I didn’t like their story, if that made sense. I got part way book and realised I didn’t know if they were a boy or girl, I couldn’t even remember their name. I thought that was me not reading it properly, but the more I read the more I realised this was on purpose. I won’t say why because I don’t want to spoil it, but this was one of my favourite parts of the book once I understood what was going on.
The ending was a bit frustrating in its ambiguity. After all the tension and fear, I wanted a bit more from the climax. I’m usually a fan of ambiguous endings but this was one I wanted to see more of. Still, I suppose it’s better to be left wanting more!
This was a really creepy book to read during winter – I only wish England had more snow to really match the atmosphere!