Books Magazine

Book Review: the Darkest Room by Johan Theorin

By Pamelascott





PAGES: 471


YEAR: 2009




It is bitter mid-winter when Katrine and Joakim Westin move with their children to an old manor house on the Swedish island of Oland. But their new home is no remote idyll. Just days later, a member of Joakim’s family is found drowned off the rocks nearby. 

While Joakim struggles to keep his sanity, Tilda Davidsson – a young policewoman fresh out of college – becomes convinced that there’s a killer on the island. 

Then, on Christmas Eve, a blizzard strikes. 

Isolated by the snow, Joakim is unaware that visitors – as unwelcome as they are terrifying – are making their way towards him. 

For this is the darkest night of the year; the night when the living meets the dead…  


This is where my book begins Katrine, the year when the manor house at Eel Point was built. For me the manor was more than a house where my mother and I lived, it was the place where I became an adult.


I picked The Darkest Room off the shelves of the library first of all because the title intrigued me. I also picked the novel up because I have been intending to read more Swedish crime writers since I discovered the amazing Camilla Lackberg a few months ago. I read the blurb on the back cover and just had to read The Darkest Room. I’m also fascinated by lighthouses. My dream house is a huge old lighthouse by the sea somewhere.

I loved The Darkest Room, absolutely loved it. Theorin offers us one of those great crime novels that isn’t really about crime but everyone affected by it. Unlike ‘traditional’ crime novels where the main character is a cop investigating the crime, the cops play a minor role in The Darkest Room. I like it when an author writing in such a popular genre tries to do something a little bit different.

Theorin blends crime and the supernatural in a very subtle way in The Darkest Room. I love it when writers blend my two favorite genres. John Connolly, one of my favorite writers is great at this. On the one hand The Darkest Room is about the tragic death of Katrine. Did she drown? Did she throw herself into the sea? Was she murdered? It’s also about a series of robberies committed recently in the area and the threat this poses to Joakim and his family. Theorin deftly weaves in supernatural elements. These include the names of all the people who have died at the manor carved into the wooden floor of the barn, the hidden room Joakim finds in the barn filled with church pews and mementos of the dead and the ghostly presences the family and visitors sense in the house. I think Theorin blende these elements really well.

I love the way Theorin brings the island of Oland to life in The Darkest Room. The island felt so real. The sights, sounds and smells leapt off the pages. I could feel the ground beneath my feet as I walked barefoot towards the twin lighthouses of Eel Point. The wind blew in my hair. I love it when a writer makes a place so real. Theorin really pulled this off.

I loved the ending of The Darkest Room. Theorin really builds up the tension as a blizzard sweeps the island. Joakim visits the hidden room to leave a Christmas present for his dead wife and sees the room full of ghosts. The robbers head to the manor for one last job believing it to be full of valuable paintings and the police are hot on their heels. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The final revelation about what really happened to Katrine stunned me.



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