Kate’s Review: “The Resting Place”

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Book: “The Resting Place” by Camilla Stem (translation: Alexandra Fleming)

Publishing Info: Minotaur Books, March 2022

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: A spine-chilling, propulsive psychological suspense from international sensation Camilla Sten.

The medical term is prosopagnosia. The average person calls it face blindness—the inability to recognize a familiar person’s face, even the faces of those closest to you. When Eleanor walked in on the scene of her capriciously cruel grandmother, Vivianne’s, murder, she came face to face with the killer—a maddening expression that means nothing to someone like her. With each passing day, her anxiety mounts. The dark feelings of having brushed by a killer, yet not know who could do this—or if they’d be back—overtakes both her dreams and her waking moments, thwarting her perception of reality.

Then a lawyer calls. Vivianne has left her a house—a looming estate tucked away in the Swedish woods. The place her grandfather died, suddenly. A place that has housed a dark past for over fifty years.

Eleanor. Her steadfast boyfriend, Sebastian. Her reckless aunt, Veronika. The lawyer. All will go to this house of secrets, looking for answers. But as they get closer to bringing the truth to light, they’ll wish they had never come to disturb what rests there. A heart-thumping, relentless thriller that will shake you to your core, The Resting Place is an unforgettable novel of horror and suspense.

Review: Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this novel!

Last year I was really impressed with Camilla Sten’s horror novel “The Lost Village”, as it not only creeped me out throughout the narrative, it also felt like it was a fresh take on a story that’s been done before. I kicked myself for passing it by initially, and I told myself I wouldn’t do that again with Camilla Sten’s next novel. Which brings us to “The Resting Place”, the new thriller by Sten that has made it from Scandinavia to the U.S. I picked it up right as our Minnesota winter was starting the Great Thaw, and the thought of a new scary thriller with a snow storm element was detached enough from the doldrums of our eternal winters that I figured it would be fun (I’ve probably jinxed us with an April snow storm now, however). And I said that I wasn’t going to let Sten pass me by again, after all. However, “The Resting Place” probably didn’t need the urgency I assumed it did.

But what did I like? We will start there, as always. A few things to be sure! For one, the setting and atmosphere was awesome. I love me a Gothic thriller and mystery, and “The Resting Place” is bursting with that sensibility. I loved the isolation of the Swedish country home of Solhoga, which has the potential to be tranquil and peaceful but due to a poorly timed blizzard and a potential killer on the loose makes it far less inviting. The isolation tactics are well worn, but effective nonetheless, and I felt like I could see the snow, the old home, and the landscapes. I also did like the dual narratives, the first being Eleanor et als’ dangerous time at Solhoga and the second being diary entries of Anuska, a servant in the 1960s who knew Vivianne and her husband due to her employment and other, more secretive, ties. I thought that the slow unveiling of the mysteries, be it what Vivianne was hiding, or who is out to perhaps kill those who were left behind, was an entertaining plot that kept me reading. In terms of characters, I liked Eleanor enough as she grapples with the trauma of walking in on her grandmother’s murder, as well as the guilt that due to her prosopagnosia she couldn’t be of any help as a witness. The tension that is there not only within her inner self, but also between her and her boyfriend Sebastian, is just another factor in the tension that is slowly rising in this narrative.

But entertaining as it is, we aren’t really doing much new here. Outside of Eleanor’s face blindness, I guess, though even that is something that could be easily done away with with some tweaking and none would be the wiser. While it’s true that I didn’t really guess a few of the big reveals, I did guess others, and the big reveals I didn’t guess felt a little underwhelming because of how they felt like a bit of a cheat. It wasn’t so much farfetched as too easily explainable under kind of nutty circumstances. Ultimately, while I thought that “The Lost Village” did a lot of new and interesting stuff with the genre it was within, “The Resting Place” didn’t feel all that unique to me, and more like the kind of thriller I read once and then don’t really think about again. Serviceable for sure, but nothing that made me say ‘now THAT was a ride!’

I am eager to see what Camilla Sten does next, as this was by no means a book that made me lose my faith in her talents. But “The Resting Place” didn’t have the oomph I was hoping for going into it.

Rating 6: Pretty standard thriller. Serviceable for sure, but nothing really wowed me.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Resting Place” is included on the Goodreads lists “Bring On The Creepy!”, and “The Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers of 2022”.

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