Part historical thriller, part Swedish Gothic, debut novel Wolf Winter tells the story of a vicious murder that threatens to tear apart an isolated community during the coldest of winters.
Swedish Lapland, 1717: a group of disparate settlers struggles to forge a new life in the shadow of the grim mountain Blackåsen whose dark mythology lies at odds with the repressive, almost feudal control exerted by the church. Into this setting, Maija, her husband, and two daughters arrive, yearning to forget the traumas that caused them to abandon their native Finland and start anew.
Not long after their arrival, their teenage daughter Frederika stumbles across the savagely mutilated body of a fellow settler, Eriksson, in a picturesque glade. The locals are quick to dismiss the culprit as wolf or bear. Maija, however, is unconvinced and compelled by the ghosts of her past she determines to investigate a murder.
As the seasons change and a harsh winter known as a 'Wolf Winter' descends, Maija begins a dangerous quest to unearth the secrets that both her neighbours and the church have conspired to bury. Now as the snow begins to fall, she will come to know the full cost of survival demanded from those who would live in the shadow of Blackåsen - and the terrible truth about those who have paid the price.
Wolf Winter is dedicated to the women in our family who don’t sleep.
Praise for Wolf Winter
"The time and place seem so remote as to be unearthly, and the style has a stealthy quality, like a silent fall of snow; suddenly, the reader is enveloped. The story creeps up and possesses the imagination; there’s something eerie in the way half-understood and only half-seen events leave their mark. It’s a powerful feat of suggestion, visually acute, skilfully written; it won’t easily erase its tracks in the reader’s mind."—Hilary Mantel, Man Booker Prize-Winning author
“Exquisitely suspenseful, beautifully written, and highly recommended.”—Lee Child, #1 internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers
“This snapshot of life in a place where winter can be unspeakably cruel, where simply staying alive is a victory, proves irresistible.”—Kirkus
“The most brilliantly, dark, eerie, intriguing, out-of-this-world tale I’ve ever read. Think The Killing and then square it.”—Ruby Wax, bestselling author of Sane New World
“Wolf Winter is a beautiful novel, full of wisdom and poetry. Cecilia Ekbäck writes dark, compelling prose steeped in a powerful sense of place. Spellbinding.”—Saskia Sarginson, bestselling author of The Twins
“In Wolf Winter, Swede Cecilia Ekbäck (writing in English) provides something fresh: for a start, a period setting (Swedish Lapland in 1717) and a haunting poetic strain not found elsewhere in the genre, except perhaps in the novels of Johan Theorin… Highly individual fare.” —Barry Forshaw, Financial Times, UK
“A compelling, suspenseful story.” —Sunday Times, UK
“This story of the struggle for survival of a family of Finnish settlers in Swedish Lapland in the early 18th Century is not for the faint hearted. The writer creates a convincing atmosphere of a very strange time in a very strange land… The details of how these people survive in an extraordinary landscape stay with you long after you have finished reading.” —Daily Mail, UK
“Wolf Winter eminently repays reading for the beauty of its prose, its strange, compelling atmosphere and its tremendous evocation of the stark, dangerous, threatening place, which exists in the far north and the hearts of all of us.” —Melanie McGrath, The Guardian, UK
“Swedish Lapland of 1717 is evoked so vividly that it seeps into your bones… A highly intelligent piece of historical Scandi-noir.” —The Times, UK
“Swedish born Cecilia Ekbäck’s debut novel is a real page-turner. Similar to Stephen King’s writing style and imagination, the novel which is set in 1717 Lapland, takes us on an exhilarating journey (4 stars).” —OK! Magazine, UK
“Swedish-born debut author Ekbäck writes with deliberate pacing and immerses the reader in the endless snowfall of winter with her hypnotic prose.”—Library Journal, Editor’s Fall Pick
“Wolf Winter is an absorbing and impressive debut from an author who I look forward to reading again” —The Globe and Mail, Canada
“In the early 18th century, Maija, her husband Paavo, and their two daughters emigrate from Finland to Swedish Lapland, leaving behind a troubled past. The country is rich and beautiful, but dominated by the ominous mountain Blackasen, said to be a dwelling for evil spirits and dark creatures. Out herding goats, the girls find the body of one of the other settlers. Maija is outspoken in her belief that their neighbor was murdered, despite the reluctance of the other settlers to admit. Winter arrives early and fiercely...As the “wolf winter” continues unabated, they learn that there is nothing so dangerous as fear.”—Lyn Roberts, Square Books (Oxford, MS)
“Cecilia Ekbäck’s tale of Swedish Lapland in 1717 gives insight into the land and people of the far north and is also hard to let go.”—Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction (Missoula, MT)
"It’s rare to come across such an original, compelling and beautifully written novel. Set in a haunted landscape during a dark Scandinavian winter in the 1700s, Wolf Winter has a mystery at its core, supported by richly drawn characters, magical language and so many twists and turns that you’ll be reading and shivering into the wee hours."—Pam Lewis, author of Speak Softly, She Can Hear and A Young Wife
“As dark as a winter night in the Arctic, as magical as the northern lights, Wolf Winter kept me turning pages long past my bedtime. A marvelous mixture of terror and delight”—Lauren B. Davis, author of The Empty Room and Against a Darkening Sky
“Rich in history and authentic detail, Wolf Winter is a deeply satisfying read. I highly recommend it.”—Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted