The Tove Jansson craze continues, with this full-length novel that was much darker than I expected. The writing is wonderful – sparse, distilled, utterly economical, appropriate for the setting in the harsh far north – the characters are fascinating, and the tension increasingly gripping so all boxes thoroughly ticked for me.
The two central characters, Katri Kling and Anna Aemelin are intriguing archetypes, and polar opposites. Katri, the lone wolf, legal/money-minded, tough, ruthless, determined in her pursuits, craving power; Anna, the rabbit, vulnerable, sentimental, artistic, uncertain, craving beauty and comfort. Everything is stripped down to rudiments so that it reads like a fable, but a psychologically complex one, about freedom and domestication, the individual and the community, power, justice, loyalty, trust. All of which is brought to bear on a relatively uneventful plot about a dog, a boat and a house, and the power dynamic between the two women – which is not as straightforward as it sounds, as the paradoxical title suggests. A powerful and memorable read; I absolutely loved it.