Harbour - John Ajvide Lindqvist

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fantasy
Synopsis: On a winter trip home to the island of Domarö, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maja across the ice to visit the lighthouse at Gåvasten. And Maja disappears. Leaving not even a footprint in the snow. Two years later, alone and more or less permanently drunk, Anders returns to Domarö to confront his despair. He slowly realises that Maja's disappearance is not the first inexplicable tragedy to strike the islanders. Nor is everyone telling him all they know; even his own mother, it seems, is keeping secrets. And what is it about the sea? There's something very bad happening on Domarö. Something that involves the sea itself.


Review:  I picked this up when I wanted to take a short break from reading detective and psychological thrillers. I didn't really know what to expect from the book, having only skimmed the synopsis and opted to go in mostly blind. The author's reputation precedes this book, so I decided to hope for the best.

And it's a difficult one. In a lot of reviews, I say a lot of critical things about the book, and go on to give it four stars because despite the flaws, I loved it. It's kind of the reverse with Harbour. Every individual element of it is pretty great, truth be told, but something about it just didn't quite come together for me. It genre-hops a little bit in its creation of an eerie atmosphere, wherein a small Swedish island begins to face up to something not quite natural invading their tightly-knit, ancient community. In the telling, the story also time-hops back and forth across several generations of one family, telling the individual puzzle piece stories of its members, which builds up (eventually) to a bigger picture. My biggest problem with the book, was how long it took that picture to build. When you strip back the details of each person's life to the elements relevant to the story of Domaro itself, there's actually very little there. It takes a long time for this book to tell, essentially, quite a simple story.

So, while I adored the people, and thoroughly enjoyed learning about them, while I was frequently stunned by the author's mastery of words, while the underlying concept was great, while, overall, it was an enjoyable book, it was not at all a rewarding one.

Rating: 3/5 

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