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To Cook a Bear set in Sweden by Mikael Niemi

  • Submitted: 21st August 2020

Cooking a bear in Sweden?  Mikael Niemi

Well, that title grabbed me straight away. I love odd and quirky titles. Would there be any cooking of bears involved I asked myself? Would there be any eating of bears involved? Turns out that yes, for the squeamish amongst you, there are some bloody descriptions of hunting. However, this novel goes beyond the gory nature we kind of expect from Nordic Noir and introduces a genre that is a mix of historical fiction and Scandi Noir with added gore.
Intrigued? I was. Hungry? Strangely enough I did start to wonder how bear would taste. Maybe that’s just me.

BookTrail Travel to locations in To Cook a Bear

To Cook a Bear set in Sweden by Mikael Niemi

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BookTrail Travel to locations in To Cook a Bear

A unique book this one. Swedish historical fiction that had a certain feel to it and a certain mystique to it. The setting was the star of the show for me and not just for BookTrail reasons. This book took you to the heart of rural Sweden back in 1852. Brrr it was cold in the Arctic Circle as I met the fascinating people who lived there.

To Cook a Bear Swedish edition

To Cook a Bear Swedish edition

Much of the story is based on, or inspired by fact. There was a pastor named Lars Levi Laestadius and in this novel the man comes to the fore. He’s a botanist and loves to talk about the issues of the day. He was a keen man of science and here he uses the many skills he has (forensics of his day) to solve a crime! It’s a great premise for a novel and I was utterly captivated by it.

However, what really made this novel stand out for me was the inclusion of the Sami boy Jussi who the priest takes under his wing. The relationship between them is lovely to read about and I enjoyed seeing Jussi start to read and find his own voice in more ways than one.

To Cook a Bear set in Sweden by Mikael Niemi

The sense of community and the landscape really shines here and the book brings out both in lyrical prose. I have to say that it was a sparse and chilling novel in places and I never really thought I knew the characters ; particularly those on the edge of the story, and this made it very compelling viewing/reading for me.

The novel does get dark however. Darker and darker. For example, Jussi is a victim of isolation and misunderstanding On top of that, there’s a slaughter of an animal which is so visceral the blood comes from the page. It’s that bear of the title….

Swedish historical fiction which is also Noir is not a common genre in English but get yourself a copy of this and enjoy!

 

BookTrail Travel to locations in To Cook a Bear

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BookTrail Boarding Pass:  To Cook a Bear

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