A dark, brilliant suspense novel from a fantastic new voice in international literature.
In the remote Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods.
Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.
Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold – just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…
Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?
An international sensation, THE FORBIDDEN PLACE is a darkly gripping tale of the stories we tell ourselves to survive, and the terrible consequences they can have.
Natalie returns to Mossmarken ostensibly to continue her research into peat bogs but she lived here when young and is inexorably drawn to the area. The past will continue to haunt her. How could it not? Such awful things had happened, her life had changed dramatically that night many years before.
Natalie doesn’t find it easy to connect to people but strikes up a friendship with a student from the local Art college. They have an affinity of kinds. He often cycles in the area, passing by Natalie’s cottage. He is out cycling when a storm begins and then quickly disappears. Natalie is alarmed, worried and goes out to look for him, he’s been attacked and left for dead.
We follow Natalie along with Leif, the detective in charge of the investigation, and Myra a local artist, a photographer who works with the police part-time.
After more bodies are found in Mossmarken with all the hallmarks of the local superstition of ritual deaths that surrounds the area, of apparitions seen out on the bog, will Natalie find out the truth about her past? Will Leif discover what is happening?
This is a twisty tale in which Susanne Jansson leads you down the garden path, or should I say along the boggy walkways, in this rather eerie tale of ancient rituals, twisted thoughts and appalling crimes. Rather Christie like at the end with the denouement being announced in the community meeting with all the possible suspects gathered, will it really be a human rather than a spiritual tragedy? Susanne Jansson keeps you guessing to the very end.
With thanks to Mulholland Books via NetGalley for an eCopy of The Forbidden Place by Susanne Jansson. All thoughts are my own, I have not received any payment for the review of this book.
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Author: Susanne Jansson was born in 1972 in Åmål, Sweden. She later moved to Gothenburg to work in advertising and then to New York to study photography. After returning to Sweden, she worked as a freelance photographer while studying journalism, and for the past twenty years she has been combining her work as a photographer with being a freelance journalist focusing on reportage and profile stories in areas such as arts and culture. She has also written crime short stories for weekly magazines. She lives with her family in Lerum outside Gothenburg. The Forbidden Place is her debut novel, and has sold in twenty five territories around the world.
Translator: Rachel Willson-Broyles became interested in Sweden and the Swedish language at an early age. She majored in Scandinavian Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, and received her BA there in 2002. She started translating while a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies in 2013. Rachel lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.