Book Reviews


It's time now for a bit of Halloween for grownups, courtesy of our own Alan Cheuse. He recommends "Jagannath," a debut story collection from Swedish writer Karin Tidbeck.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Reindeer Mountain, one of the many rather weird and chilling stories in this collection opens in this fashion: Cilla was 12 years old the summer Sara put on her great grandmother's wedding dress and disappeared up the mountain. You can tell from this and many of the stories in the book that Karin Tidbeck grew up in the dark tradition of Scandinavian folklore on what must have been a succession of moonless nights filled with the comings and goings of strange and menacing, often quite weird, forest creatures.

Most of these stores are quite weird, but good weird. They make you sit up and pay attention to every little git and turn in the dark around you. Things get even stranger in "Cloudberry Jam," the story of a woman who grows in a tin can, an amalgam of a creature out of her own blood, spit, some fresh water, a half teaspoon of salt and a garden variety vegetable.

And later on in the end of that Reindeer Mountain story, the girl Cilla sits up in bed, pulls aside the curtain and looks out at the town lying quiet on the shore of a lake with, as Tidbeck tells us, the mountain beyond backlit by the eerie glow of the sun skimming just below the horizon. This sight brings with it a sensation Cilla can neither name nor explain. It was like a longing worse than anything she had ever experienced.

But for what, she had no idea. Something tremendous waited out there. Something wonderful was going to happen and she was terrified that she would miss it. Yes, something wonderful and frightening is going to happen if you pick up and open this book. Happy Halloween.

CORNISH: That was our own Alan Cheuse reviewing Karin Tidbeck's short story collection, "Jagannath."

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