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The Darkest Room

(The Öland Quartet #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  5,212 ratings  ·  370 reviews
'The dead are our neighbours everywhere on the island, and you have to get used to it.'

It is bitter mid-winter on the Swedish island of Oland, and Katrine and Joakim Westin have moved with their children to the boarded-up manor house at Eel Point. But their remote idyll is soon shattered when Katrine is found drowned off the rocks nearby. As Joakim struggles to keep his sa
Paperback, 480 pages
Published 2010 by Black Swan (first published 2008)
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Clumsy Storyteller
"The dead came up out of the bog.. lots of them, clawing at me, ripping and tearing... they were cold, so cold. They wanted my warmth."

This book turned out better than i expected. I was about to DNF it because of the slow as hell start but i continued reading it. And it was totally worth it. It's written in third person. It follows three characters: Henrik jansson (the theif), Tilda davidsson: a police officer, Joakim westin a father of a family. The westin family moved into this big haunted h
Thomas Strömquist
The first book in "The Öland Quartet", Skumtimmen ("Echoes from the Dead") was a pre-Goodreads read for me, so a few years ago. I enjoyed it very much and certainly enough to collect more books by Theorin, including two of the other three in this quartet. For some reason though, I haven't gotten around to reading any of the others until now - but I'm certainly going to redeem that mistake.

Nattfåk ("Natt" meaning night-time and "Fåk" being the Öland name for an especially nasty snow/sleet/ice sto
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Atmospheric and menacing winter on Öland in the Baltic Sea. A young couple with children buy and begin to restore an isolated timber manor house in the shadow of two lighthouses. The bleak history of the area blends well with the unlucky inhabitants of past and present. I was looking for ghosts and death in the grand finale blizzard. Gerlof, the octogenarian hero of Echoes from the Dead, has an important role here as well. I hope to find him again in the remaining books of the quartet. ...more
Nancy Oakes
Joakim and Katrine Westin, along with their two small children, have decided to leave Stockholm to buy and renovate an old manor house at Eel Point on the island of Öland. Along with its two lighthouses, this area has a long history of shipwrecks and drownings, and it is said that the voices of the dead can still be heard. But for Joakim and Katrine, Eel Point offers a new beginning. For their children there are meadows and forests to play in, a definite change from urban life in Stockholm. But ...more
Tim Pendry

A nordic noir thriller with an occult twist. The standard issue mildly troubled female police officer, the forbidding climate, small town relationships, dour males, family dysfunctionality, a hint of folk religion, it is all there but, this time, ghosts appear and are accepted as real.

It passes the time but it is not particularly memorable. There is some solid writing but the plot is far-fetched, people all arrive in the same place coincidentally, the evidential base for the final accusation is
Pamela Scott
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved The Darkest Room, absolutely loved it. Theorin offers us one of those great crime novels that isn’t really about crime but everyone affected by it. Unlike ‘traditional’ crime novels where the main character is a cop investigating the crime, the cops play a minor role in The Darkest Room. I like it when an author writing in such a popular genre tries to do something a little bit different.

Theorin blends crime and the supernatural in a very subtle way in The Darkest Room. I love it when wr
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not a rational book but rather elemental in its theme, reflecting the unpredictability of nature situated as it is off the Baltic Sea. The characters are not driven by logic but are buffeted almost like flotsam by varying waves that follow no rules.
In still waters, our introduction to a young family in the process of relocating from Stockholm to their new manor house on island appears normal. Sudden death comes like a rogue wave. There is no understanding of how it could have happened.
Peter Taylor
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked this book and would give it 4 stars. Personally I think the blurb on the cover is an exaggeration and does not do the story justice. It is not a frightening horror/crime story. It is an eerie believable ghost story about a house that was built from wood salvaged from a vessel wrecked of the Island in 1846. However this is no Hollywood type of sinister monster house.

It is the story of how Joakim and his children cope with the death of his sister and wife. Intertwined with details of the t
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few days ago I was assuming that Jane Harper's superb The Lost Man would be the benchmark against which I'd compare the rest of my reading this year, but now, so soon, it has a rival in my affections. The irony is that Johan Theorin's The Darkest Room has been sitting on my nightstand for some years now, always being passed over at the last minute as I chose my next read.

Grr! When I think of how many lesser books I read when I could have been devouring this one . . .

From the outside, The Darke
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Theorin has captured the bleak and frozen winters of Olan, an island off the coast of Sweden, not only in his descriptions, which blend seamlessly into the story, but also in the content of the narrative. The darkness and oppressiveness of the plot are enhanced by his descriptions of the setting. Add to this his skill at weaving a plot that defies prediction, as well as multiple clever twists, and you have a highly entertaining novel which has you gasping and even laughing at his writing skill. ...more
David Hebblethwaite
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
The manor house at Eel Point, on the Swedish island of Öland, has had a dark reputation ever since it was built using salvage from a shipwreck. There have been a number of deaths associated with the place over the years, and the latest happens shortly after Joakim Westin moves in there with his family – his wife Katrine drowns, apparently accidentally. A young police officer named Tilda Davidsson looks into events, and starts to wonder if Katrine’s death really was all that accidental – whilst J ...more
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have read Theorin's first book which had a depth of character and history that I really enjoyed. I have also recently read Chris Bohjalian's "The Night Strangers" which I hated. This book is what Bohjalian was trying to accomplish and didn't. This was an extremely well-written mystery that was also a ghost story. An old manor by the sea, inhabited for many years by those who kept up the lighthouses on the coast, is the setting for an accident that is eventually deemed a murder. Add to the narr ...more
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Johan Theorin's Swedish supernatural thriller read by Nigel Cooke.
Oct 17, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yahel Avelsnik
Jan 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: scandinavia
I really don't understand why this book got so many good reviews here and on other sites. Maybe the translator did a bad job and spoiled the effect of the book (I read it in Russian)though I seriously doubt it.
First of all, this book is devoid of any features of a literary style. By this I mean - no metaphors, no stylistic devices, just a mere sequence of events given in the most trivial manner ever. And it's not Hemingway or Kafka, of course. OK, stylistic devices are not so important nowadays
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read a ghost story as good as this one in a very long time and maybe ever.
This book is set in Sweden in a manor house on the shore of the Baltic Sea. Two lighthouses are also on the shore not too far from the house.
Joakim and Katrine Westin and their young son and daughter have just moved into a big old long-neglected house with the intentions of remodeling it. However, "there are things that cannot be repaired, lives that have gone wrong, and secrets that have followed them."
Within a
Apr 13, 2015 rated it liked it
It's a good, interesting crime-ghost story. Easy read, decent, very " skandinavian" , I had a good time.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent, the atmospheric sense of being on Oland is outstanding!
Fantastic, wonderful ghostly feeling to this one, invoking a history of death-by-sea, and mischief.
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
When I had read Echoes from the Dead, I was not really expecting a taut thriller, with a sad and believable protagonist and a plot which racing between two time periods and an unlikely outcome, a twist in the very last pages. It kept me hooked up to the last page. I made the mistake of underestimating the book, and I was properly thrilled with its stature. And, then I made the mistake of over estimating The Darkest Room, and was not really thrilled by the book and its contents. Make no mistake o ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Här kan du läsa min recension på svenska =)

This is the second book in The Öland Quartet by Johan Theorin. I read the first book, Echoes from the Dead, a couple of years ago and really enjoyed the mix of mystery and thriller. In The Darkest Room, Theorin continues to mix mystery with thriller. We follow Katrine and Joakim Westin who move into Åludden's large farm in northern Öland. It is said that the house is built of timber from a ship that has fallen into the flock. Soon they will hear some ru
Lukasz Pruski
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Johan Theorin's "The Darkest Room" will be a very good read for people who like mysteries with a slightly supernatural bent. The novel takes place in northern Öland, Sweden, and the author aptly conveys the "barren and fatal" landscape of the place.

A couple with two small kids moves in to a huge manor house next to a lighthouse on the coast of Öland island. Then the grim events from the past begin to affect the present. We learn about a string of several deaths and disappearances connected with
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
It seems like Scandinavian mystery writers are really taking over the genre, and I found this entry to be topnotch. There's no better setting for this type of book than a sparsely populated, blizzard-ridden island in the Baltic Sea, and the locale was satisfying enough to send a few solid chills down my spine. There were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me hooked to the end. The characters are good, but the setting makes the book. If set in a city, this would be pretty ho-hum.
Full dis
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Part ghost story, part crime fiction, 100% thriller, it is an intriguing, atmospheric novel that kept me gripped right up until its high-octane ending. While certain scenes lacked realism - for example, the seemingly indestructible Tilda carrying on her policework after having an axe thrown at her head and Joakim repeatedly heading out to the barn at night, leaving his two children all alone in the house when he knows that his daughter is unsettled in her sleep - the novel as a whole is well tho ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scandinavian
I'm a huge fan of Johan Theorin! I knew I'd found something special when I read his first book, Echoes From the Dead. But this book sealed it. It's haunting on so many levels: literally, atmospherically, psychologically. The main character, Joakim Westin, goes through a terrible ordeal and even though I haven't experienced what he does, I could identify strongly with his reactions. I liked the other main characters, too: the amateur detective, Gerlof (who is also in the first book), the police o ...more
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very good Swedish book - with all the right "ingredients". More of a ghost story that will lull you into forgetting the crime behind. Although "lull" might not be the correct word concerning how scared you may feel when you believe in ghosts, but it refers mostly to the pace of the first two thirds of the novel. And so the final twist comes very unexpectedly and is a true revelation. I am considering running to a bookstore to get The Quarry but I am held back by the pile of books on my bedsite ...more
Minty McBunny
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have wanted to read this for two years! It was listed as a lost book by my library, I've been waiting for them to reorder it for quite some time and they finally did.

It was well worth the wait. Richly evocative, the language was equally strong at creating visible settings and palpable mood, I was engaged from page one and the sense of foreboding was constant even as the book skipped through history. I really enjoyed everything about this book and will be asking my friendly librarian to get th
Another great tale from Theorin.
Again based in Oland, with Gerlof Davidsson and his old mates providing some help to Joakim Westin, a new resident, after his wife drowns. A good mix of Swedish folklore, life in Oland through the 20th century, mystery, murder, revenge and secrets. A new policewoman battles to make a difference, a series of burglaries, a blizzard and ghosts all lead to an exciting conclusion.
Theorin knows how to make a story move along.
Dec 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Last book of 2015. I'm dreading the fact I'm already taking two halfway read books to the next year... No fresh start grrrrr. But next year (as of now this year, oh ye dreadful 2016) I'm going to Read. All. The. Books.

Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that had me looking over my shoulder with every creak and sound in my house at night. Part ghost story, part thriller it tells of a couple who move with their children into a large house near some deserted lighthouses on an island of the cost of Sweden. I won't say anymore save that the house and family have memories that haunt them while at the same time a bunch of local villains are causing problems and a young female police officer has to manage an investigation as ...more
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Throughout his life, Johan Theorin has been a regular visitor to the Baltic island of Öland. His mother’s family – sailors, fishermen and farmers - have lived there for centuries, nurturing the island’s rich legacy of strange tales and folklore. A journalist by profession, Johan now lives in Gothenburg.

Echoes from the Dead (originally published in Sweden as Skumtimmen) is Johan’s first novel. In 2

Other books in the series

The Öland Quartet (4 books)
  • Echoes from the Dead (The Öland Quartet #1)
  • Blodläge (The Öland Quartet #3)
  • Rörgast (The Öland Quartet #4)

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