Thursday, November 20, 2008
REVIEW: Echoes From the Dead
Title: Echoes From the Dead
Author: Johan Theorin
Translator: Marlaine Delargy
ISBN: 9780385342216/Bantam Dell
Protagonist(s): Julia Davidsson and her father, Gerlof Davidsson
Setting: sometime in the 1990s, on Oland, an island off the coast of Sweden
First Line: The wall was built of big, rounded stones covered in grayish white lichen, and it was the same height as the boy.
Twenty years ago, five-year-old Jens Davidsson walked out into the alvar on a foggy day and disappeared without a trace. His mother, Julia, has lived in a wine-soaked state of suspended animation ever since...until she receives the phone call from her father, Gerlof, who still lives on Oland. Packing a bag, Julia drives to the nursing home where Gerlof lives, and Gerlof shows her the tiny sandal. Someone has mailed him one of the sandals Jens was wearing on the day he disappeared. Thus begins this investigation conducted by a mother who's never allowed herself to grieve and a crippled old man.
This book moves in a slow, deliberate, almost elegiac pace--shadowing the movements of Gerlof with his cane as he slowly, inexorably visits each person on his list. He's a man who's held himself responsible for his grandson's death. He's a man who wants to give his daughter the answers that will make her want to live again.
I felt myself being sucked into this book as if I'd stepped into quicksand. The further I sank, the more I wanted to know, the more I wanted to lose myself in the landscape of this Swedish island that plays as big a part in the plot as Gerlof and Julia. I won this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. All I knew was that the synopsis made me think I'd enjoy the book. I had no idea that Echoes From the Dead has been receiving rave reviews from people in the UK. Now I know why. I'm already looking for Theorin's next book. Wow....