Steve Betz's Reviews > The Darkest Room

The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin
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Jul 15, 10

bookshelves: 2010, horror, mystery, nordic-crime
Read from June 18 to 21, 2010

In “The Darkest Room”, Johan Theorin follows up his very successful and engaging “Echoes From The Dead” with another mystery set on the desolate Swedish island of Öland. The back of the book promotion suggested that this was another crime novel, perhaps even a sequel.

In a way, “The Darkest Room” is both and neither. Whereas I’d qualify “Echoes From the Dead” as a crime mystery, this book is actually more of a ghost story with a crime-novel subplot. In it, a young family buys an old seaside manor house. (Seriously, what’s better than a cold, windswept, isolated creepy old mansion with its own haunted lighthouse?) Soon after, a tragedy occurs and the mystery (and its connection to the house’s past) is set into motion. The plot of the book builds slowly, mirrored by a slowly encroaching winter storm, and steadily to a page-turning finale.

Theorin does a very good job of distinguishing this book from “Echoes From the Dead” – the locale is the same and you run into a couple of familiar faces – which is comforting in a way – but the story is driven by new and richly rendered characters who come complete with their own strong traits and flaws. The supernatural elements are presented subtly and in a way that adds to the creep-out factor which spikes to goose bump-inducing range in several instances.

If this was a 10-point scale, I’d give this book a 9. In goodreads’ 5-point scale I’m going to give it 5 of 5, with the only slight dink due to the resolution of the mystery, which felt a little quick. Overall, though a great genre-blending book that I highly recommend.
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