Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Book Review | The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

The Wolf and the Watchman is a historical fiction novel by Niklas Natt och Dag.

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

I'm so glad I read The Wolf and the Watchman. I came across it many times while looking for upcoming releases. The title and the cover kept pulling me in, but the historical fiction genre is what kept pushing me back out. When Atria Books offered me a copy and compared it to Patrick Süskind's Perfume, I decided to take a chance. Again, I'm so glad I did!

The comparison to Perfume is accurate. Niklas Natt och Dag has a similar voice to Süskind, and the content was oh so dark. The Wolf and the Watchman is exactly the kind of historical fiction my horror loving heart wants to read.

I have no idea how to review historical fiction, but I do know I enjoyed the heck out of this book. I love the voice, I loved the characters, I loved how consistently uncomfortable it made me.

The Wolf and the Watchman is a beautiful book, too. I tweeted out this picture of the inside, and Hand Made Maps let me know they were the company that created the beautiful interior map.


It's still early in the year, but it's pretty safe to say The Wolf and the Watchman will land on my list of favorites for the year. Niklas Natt och Dag is a Swedish author, and I can only hope we are treated to more translated work from him in the future.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review copy provided by publisher

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6 comments:

  1. I've been curious but hesitant about this one. Maybe I'll grab it from the library eventually.

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  2. I've been reading other rave reviews of this and I'm very excited to read it. I love maps too! And I loved Perfume😁

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    Replies
    1. I need to go read some more reviews. That would make me happy. :) I really enjoyed it.

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  3. I love the sound of this and I think it's something I would really enjoy. I'll definitely go and seek a copy out.
    Lynn :D

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