The Rabbit Back Literature Society - Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Genre: Fiction/Magical Realism/Mystery
Synopsis: Only very special people are chosen by children's author Laura White to join 'The Society', an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected. But soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual, 'The Game'? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura's winter party, in a whirlwind of snow? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, disturbing secrets that had been buried come to light... In this chilling, darkly funny novel, the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.


Review: Well, this was unexpected. I'm not really sure where to begin with this one. I know I enjoyed it, but trying to articulate the precise reasons why is about as easy as explaining half the unsolved mysteries in the story. I love any book based around books, libraries, reading, book clubs and literature societies. The idea of a group of world-famous authors who can barely stand to be in the same room as each other intrigues me. Naturally, indoctrination into the society along with its newest, tenth member seems the obvious way to learn about it, and so I read Ella's story. There's a lot of mystery in this book, which makes it a real page turner, but there's also a lot of questions that don't really get answered, particularly those related to the usually undertoned but occasionally overt magical realism throughout the novel. Normally, that's something that would really irritate me, as is the very presence of unexplained magical realism, such as the rearrangement of words in novels as per the synopsis. But whatever it is about how this book is written, I absolutely loved it.

The characters are, largely, not particularly likeable. But they're interesting. Their stories, the history of the society, and the previous tenth member, are all extremely intriguing. 'The Game' is very surreal and, in the most literal sense, incredible, but I didn't find myself scoffing - rather, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Parts of the novel are very dark, at least one scene is horrendously graphic and (in my opinion) utterly unnecessary, but like everything else contained here that would normally put me off, something about the writing and how it all gels together just really works. There are also certain passages which are essentially mental soliloquies of Ella's which are quite thought-provoking.

This review sounds relatively lukewarm, and yet I'm giving the book 5 stars. I can't explain it. I hate that I can't, because for me the entire point of a review is to explain why I did or didn't like a thing. There's probably a whole thing in it somewhere about how we perceive reality and possibly even construct it with our perceptions but I chose to skim the surface rather than thinking too much. So, all I can say is, it's a head trip and it's fun to get lost in. Don't expect answers, just run with it and immerse yourself in the writing. I think that's it actually; the writing itself. Great book.

Rating: 5/5

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