In the small Finnish town of Rabbit Back, famous but reclusive children’s author Laura White runs the Literature Society. Laura handpicked nine gifted children and trained them, and they have all grown to become successful writers. When Ella moves back to Rabbit Back, she is invited to become the tenth member, but as she digs deeper into the Society, she finds things are not quite as they first seemed. She finds books that seem to change their contents, an original tenth member who has been forgotten, and a strange Game in which Society members must spill their deepest thoughts and secrets.
It’s a dark fairytale about stories, the stories we tell about ourselves, and the raw materials, memories and truths that lie behind those stories. It’s mainly realism but with strangeness and magic weaved in. At one point, one of the characters says “we writers are the crocodiles in the water”, meaning they lurk and watch and take what they need from others to build their stories and characters. It’s an idea that runs right through the book.
The constant repetition of Ella’s “beautifully curving lips” bugged me because it didn’t seem to serve any purpose and it’s repeated a LOT. But I promise it’s possible to tune out that phrase and skim past to the better stuff.
I quite liked the ending; it puts a different meaning on some of the main plot, was unexpected, but still worked with the overall story and themes. The magical realism elements of the book are never fully explained or tied-up, but I think that was fitting. A minor quibble is that I didn’t believe one of the relationships at the end, but it didn’t bother me much.
An enjoyable quirky and cosy book for a wintery, chilly night.