“It starts with just one body – the hands bound, the skin covered in marks.
Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg is determined to find out who is responsible, despite opposition from her superiors. When two more bodies are found, it becomes clear that she is hunting a serial killer.
With her career on the line, she turns to psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund. Together, they uncover a chain of shocking events that began decades ago – but will it lead them to the murderer before someone else dies?”
This is the initial blurb on the back cover of the book I received for Christmas, my first initial thought was, it sounds very generic. But before I go any further I can tell you 100% that that synopsis does NOT give the book any justice at all.
Judging by the fact you are reading this post I am guessing you’ve had enough of me going on about how much I loved this book on Instagram and just wanted to finally know what all the fuss was about. And you’ll already know that this is one of THE BEST books I have read in a long, long time. I hate starting a book and not being able to finish it, however prior to picking up The Crow Girl I had done just that, I got halfway through the previous book (U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton) and had just had enough, id given it a few hundred pages and it just wasn’t flowing right for me, I found it boring and trying to get through it became more of a chore, so I was apprehensive when I started The Crow Girl in case I felt the same. But I can safely say that was not the case, by the second page I knew this book, despite its healthy length was going to be one I couldn’t put down.
I’m first going to give you a little more of a relevant synopsis of the book (I have based this synopsis from a review written by the guardian, if you want to read the guardian review then click here, but it goes into slightly more depth and could involve spoilers) to give a more detailed account of what the book entails and then I’ll go into the disclaimers I think you should note before you chose to invest yourself in this book.
“First is the discovery of an unidentified young boy’s body , showing signs of having suffered sexual torture after the administration of an unusual sedative and then, after death, a bizarre process of mummification. This murder is investigated by Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg, a headstrong character who is constantly undermined for being a woman, and continuously challenges the female societal persona at the time. Her viewpoint alternates with that of Sofia Zetterlund, a psychotherapist whose patients include a child pornographer, a woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder and a former child soldier in Sierra Leone.
Between scenes of Jeanette and Sofia at work, there are present-day sections taking place in a house where a psychopath has created a prison for a child. There are also flashbacks to the distressing childhood of someone who identifies herself as “Crow Girl” as well as other characters going about their lives, all carrying their own past secrets that intertwine storylines into a one huge thrilling journey.”
The first thing you’ll notice is the length of the book, it is over 700 pages long and the storylines get fairly complex, so if you aren’t one to delve into a more lengthy, hard thinking novel, then this isn’t for you. It most definitely is not a ‘light read.’
Secondly, you’ll notice the bizarre names and locations, this is because the book has been translated into English from its original format, which was actually written as a trilogy in Swedish. The book was originally three individual novels but as it has been translated and republished to be a worldwide phenomenon, they put the three books into one large book, separated into three parts.
Now for a disclaimer (of sorts), this book comes under the genres; thriller, mystery and crime. And most definitely it is aimed at readers who enjoy those genres, however it is not for the faint hearted, it’s not a simple mystery or just a rivetingly fun thriller, it is a fairly complex, dark novel. I have been going through a few reviews to get a variety of opinions and the majority of the low scoring reviews are due to the fact the violence (mainly sexual) is pretty graphic and readers have felt unable to get through the scenes. Likewise they have also found the psychological aspect of the book tricky to keep up with as it is very fast paced and I feel if you have no knowledge of psychological theories, trauma and the human mind, you may struggle to understand parts of the novel as it doesn’t necessarily explain, it is assumed you understand the basic concepts.
I myself study forensic psychology at university and am an avid documentary watcher of all things psychology related (the darker and deeper, the better) so I didn’t find the concepts particularly hard to understand, instead I found the use of the social sciences a positive and enjoyable part of the book. I find the concept of the human mind and the complexity of cause and effect very fascinating and so this only drew me in further. Without explaining the concept, it does cover the general idea of nature verses nurture, aswell as concentrating on the human psyche and how that is affected by certain events and can shape a future.
Because of studying the subject I study, mixed with my obvious choice of films/documentaries/books/etc, I am not effected greatly by particularly horrible acts. I am a bit of a psychopath when it comes to horrific things, they don’t affect me in the slightest, I can watch the most horrendously violent and sickening scene and still sleep very soundly at night. For this reason I didn’t find the graphic content of the book disturbing, I think the severity of the descriptions was essential in building the story and how you are supposed to feel in regards to the characters and the events. But, if you are easily effected by graphic accounts and explicit imagery, (mainly on the topics of rape, child abuse, murder and torture) then you probably won’t enjoy this book.
I realise I’ve now portrayed myself as the most cold hearted psychopath, which I can assure you isn’t the case, i’m just a naturally unaffected individual when it comes to horrible things. I mean, I will cry and have a fit if I drop my pizza on the floor, or when left alone at night will turn into a terrified child who anticipates a burglar breaking in and killing me every time, but on the whole, I can watch a horror without blinking or being frightened and can read some horrific accounts and not be emotionally effected.
My overall opinion on the novel, as you already know, is that it is one of the most thrilling, gripping and fully immersive books I have read. The characters (once you’ve figured out how to pronounce most their names) were all unique and engaging, giving the reader different feelings on each one and captivating you to follow each of their journeys. I often found myself at the end of every character’s narrative, being frustrated that it ended where it ended because I wanted to know more, and yet did the exact same on the next narrative. A major plot twist is revealed fairly early on in the book which I at first thought was unusual and wondered where further plot twists could go, but there is literally plot twist after plot twist. And they are all just as gasp-worthy as the last.
Although the general motives of the plot/characters may seem widely generic to some, I found the book uniquely interesting and portrayed the entire plotline far better than any previous crime thriller I have read, Anyone who even remotely enjoys a dark crime novel, I would suggest reading this before you read anything else, because this one is significantly more enjoyable, interesting, dark, complex and gripping than any previous psychological thrillers I have read. The negative point to that being, I doubt in the near future ill find a book I will enjoy as much as this one and will forever be comparing them to The Crow Girl.
John doesn’t read( I used to wonder, despite his high intelligence whether he could in fact, actually read) , he is a get into bed and put the horror channel on, then fall asleep snoring 10 seconds later kind of guy, but I have forced him to give The Crow Girl a go and so far so good, (it’s only been one night so I will keep you updated and let you know his opinions on the book aswell).
If The Crow Girl sounds like something you’d like to give a go you can purchase the book from Amazon by clicking: