By Josephine Greenland

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Two Siblings, one crime, one long-kept secret?

Publication date: March 2021
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About the book

Embers is a contemporary, YA detective novel set in northern Sweden, where The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time meets Scandi Noir such as Cecilia Ekbäck’s Wolf Winter. The methodical deduction of the crime and dynamic, humorous relationship between siblings Ellen and Simon is contrasted against the bleak landscape of northern Sweden and the mysticism of Sami folklore.

17-year-old Ellen Blind travels to Svartjokk, a small town in northern Sweden, with her brother Simon, a 14-year-old with Aspergers and obsession with detective stories. They’re on a holiday arranged by their parents, who claim that the siblings should bond, visit the birthplace of their late grandfather, Lars-Erik, and discover their Sami roots. Ellen, though, knows that her parents also want them out of the way so they can sort out their marital problems. The holiday turns upside down when the siblings discover reindeer heads in the forest. Simon’s findings at the scene suggest the reindeer have been poisoned. Frustrated with the police’s lack of interest, Simon is determined to find the perpetrator. Ellen reluctantly helps him. investigation takes them to the local Sami village and the owner of the dead reindeer, Per-Anders Thomasson. It turns out that Per-Anders knows far more about the Lars-Erik’s past than the siblings did, and the more they learn, the more Ellen suspects that the reindeer killing is somehow connected to their grandfather. Embers of the past rarely burn out.

Embers is my attempt to depict the realities often present in isolated, remote communities where extremist beliefs easily root themselves, and to raise awareness about animal abuse - a subject particularly relevant considering the importance of the environment and animal welfare in contemporary society. A lot of hate crime committed against the Sami in northern Scandinavia often goes unnoticed by media, and so my book acts as a mouthpiece for their voices. Embers explores how violence is created, suggests that violence can be the sum of multiple people’s behaviour, and be born from loneliness. It explores in what ways long-kept secrets affect family relationships, particularly that between parents and their children, and therefore touches upon subject matters relevant to both teenagers and adults. Ultimately, Embers suggests that the only way to resolve issues of trust and recover from violence is for people to recognise one another and let no one remain ignored.

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