October is the Coldest Month

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Member Reviews

"The story would refer to Varvet as the 'remote Småland countryside'. It was weird--just because they were far away, we were the remote ones. Even though we were close to the action." *


I really enjoyed October is the Coldest Month: the story, the writing, the characters, the tone. This novel was originally published in Swedish and it felt very different from something set in England or the US - or even set in Sweden but written in English. For lack of a better way to say it (and I have tried to find one) it felt very Scandinavian.

Even as dark or criminal or dangerous or confusing (or a mix of all of the above) were happening, it did not feel as intense or fast paced as other stories I have read. I loved that Vega walked or rode her bike everywhere, that she lived by a giant, old, intimidating forest. I also loved her complicated, confusing relationships with her family members.

"In Varvet, you inherit your house, you way of life, your loyalties.History is your blood whether you want it there or no."*

Both the characters and their lives were very easy to relate to, though. Varvet is a town it is easy to get stuck in; to stay in your whole life. Whether you want to or not. Vega's description of what happens there, of who the people are and why they are there made it sound like a lot of American small towns.  It also feels like the perfect setting for her family: the absence of her father, the way her mother acts, what he uncle does, why he's back in Varvet, where her brother lives, etc. The author gave us the perfect setting and characters who, flaws, good intentions, not-so-good intentions, fit in could really only, all, live there.

As this is a translated work it's hard to know just how much of the writing (phrasing, word choice, etc) is the author and how much is the translator but it was great. Any book that can compare things to soon-to-be-decapitated Barbie heads and to buffalo and have them both work is something pretty special.

Vega and her entries into the adult world, the crime and what trying to figure it out reveals to Vega, Varvet and how living there shapes the characters, the tone and atmosphere of this story which were different and wonderful, and the fantastic writing all makes this a book you should read. I hope more of this author's works are translated into English.


*Quote is from arc and I could not find the section in any of the previews of the finished book online. If you have a finished copy and my quote is incorrect, let me know. (Or if you know a page number.)

Rating: 4.5/5
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Thank you to net galley for providing me with a e-copy in exchange of a honest review.

This book follows a 16 year old girl who finds out her brother is involved in a murder. 

Okay this started at bit slow but it quickly picked up the pace. I was expecting a thriller it didn't quite meet my expectations I wanted it to be a bit more darker and colder I guess it was a little young for me. It was absorbing and full of suspense though. I did like the main character she was pretty strong unlike most younger female characters.

The title of this book fits in the story well I even started this in October to get into it properly #dedication. October is a cold month! 
Overall it was a short read that wrapped up okay but wasn't as intense at it promised. Something I would have been into when I was younger.
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Definitely not what I expected. 

The story follows a young girl who is looking for the truth. Her brother is missing and she thinks she is Ms. Detective. I really cannot stand her. She would be a great character but her mind is always on sex and who she wants to get to next.

This book is said to be YA but it is DEFINITELY not YA. It is way too explicit and graphic for this to be categorized as YA. 

It's just not what I expected and really not marketed correctly. 

Thank you for the opportunity to read this.
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For the first 90% of this book I was confused & couldn't care less about any of the characters, but in the last few pages the pieces started to make sense and I see the point in the story.

TW for murder, rape & vivid sexual scenes 

// Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review //
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Sixteen year old Vega is at home alone when the police come looking for her older brother Jakob. It's lucky for her really because, not only does she manage to fend off their queries, she avoids any potentially awkward questions from her mother, who will realise that whatever it is that Jakob's become involved in, Vega should have been with him. Vega's desperate to speak to Jakob too, but he's disappeared, and trying to find him only draws Vega further into his troubles ...


Set in rural Sweden, this YA crime novel is grittier and harder-hitting than a lot of fiction aimed at that age group. Vega has been drawn unwittingly into the cover up of what she assumes was a murder, though she doesn't know what has happened to the body, or even whose it was. She's also terrified that both she and her brother could now be in danger. Looking for Jakob brings her into contact with two guys she'd rather avoid - Jakob's best friend to whom she's attracted, and a boy she had a very brief, wholly sexual, relationship with.

A tense, claustrophobic atmosphere pervades the whole book. Vega's home is in an isolated village, the kind of place where everyone knows each other, but doesn't necessarily get along with them, where illicit businesses flourish away from the law, and old feuds don't die but slumber on ready to restart. The houses are scattered, hidden from their neighbour by the surrounding forest, where anyone could be hiding. Add some dark, damp autumnal weather, and you've got the perfect Nordic Noir -style setting. As Vega sets about finding her brother, discovering how much the police know and getting some answers about what actually happened, you won't want to put the book down!

It's a dark, brooding novel, that alongside the crime element deals openly with sex and desire, so definitely one aimed at older teens.
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A very different read to my current fare, but this gripped me. Vega is a wonderful narrator - a curious mix of childish curiosity and adult knowing. The attempt to discover what had happened to her brother and the truth about the missing neighbour was intriguing. Sometimes the truth doesn't have to be gory - it's more shocking for its apparent simplicity.
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I don't read a lot of thrillers. That's not to say I don't like the feeling that you get from reading thrillers, there's something about that dry-throat, adrenaline-surge as everything begins to tumble apart. Generally, I tend to get my fill of that feeling from horror books, but there was something about the blurb of this particular YA psychological thriller that drew me right in. 

From the start there's a very sinister feel to the story, all dark forests, drowning bogs and remote trailer parks. Much of the local economy runs on moonshine and the general atmosphere is one of 'don't ask questions that you don't want the answer to'. Vega's world is a hard and unfamiliar one. I'm sure that most people think of Scandinavia as some kind of utopia, they certainly don't usually stop to consider the stories of those raised in poor rural towns and villages. 

The story starts with a visit from the police. You get the feeling that the police don't very often stick their noses into the business of this little forest community, and that their presence is unusual and unwanted. Vega, our protagonist, is asked whether she knows the location of her brother who is wanted for questioning about a crime. Vega must pretend that she knows nothing when, in fact, she knows exactly what they are talking about…she just doesn't entirely know why it happened. We follow Vega as she tries to work out what happened that night and what it has to do with her brother.

It's a short book, only taking me an evening to finish, but I think it's the perfect length for the story that Carlsson wished to tell. I'd argue that it's much more about Vega's growth in an environment hostile to young women, than the mystery of the crime itself. Vega has to stick her nose in places where she is not welcome, learning uncomfortable truths about her brother, money and her uncle's moonshine operation. A portion of the book is also devoted to her complicated feelings for one of the local boys and their awkward and strained relationship following some drunken fumbling. I liked that Vega's interest in sex wasn't shamed at any point during the book. She's a sixteen year old girl, unapologetically finding what she likes in a world that has forced her to grow up too fast. 

This book was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but what I got was a rich little book, evoking all the cold loneliness of rural Sweden. Vega is a wonderful protagonist, who is fighting a battle against her past and the stagnancy of the world around her. Although the ending is left quite open, I found myself hoping that she ended up with a future that she deserved. I'll definitely be picking books up by Carlsson in future. 

Many thanks to Scribe UK and Netgalley for a copy in return for an honest review.
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A snapshot of a moment after a murder and the teenage girl that gets washed up in it. A really quick read. Attempts to deal with serious issues such as sexual assault and trauma, and has varying degrees of success. Sexualisation of the main character - a young teenage girl - is frequent and uncomfortable in places. Overall, an interesting book that was quick to read and had a decent murder mystery within.
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Not for me... the disjointed timeline was too confusing at times - it felt like we'd jump from past to present within the same paragraph! And I found Vega to be an unlikeable and unrelatable main character. I simply did not feel compelled to read about her. Sorry!
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I have a love for Sweden so was eager to read this book. 

October is the Coldest Month is quite a dark suspenseful book with lots of twist and turns which I think any thriller-loving young adults and adults alike would enjoy. 

The protagonist grows on you throughout the book as she battles her way through what seems like a pretty tough life and struggles with family relations. 

I found it an easy read which fed my 'What's next?' need however, I did find myself wanting more pages of the book as I got closer to the end.
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I was excited to read YA Scandi-noir and this book was very different to anything else I've read in YA. However, that was partly because of the adult themes; I was surprised by how much sexual content there was and this means I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable recommending this book to the young adults I teach (most of the keen readers I work with are 14/15 and I think they'd be uncomfortable with parts of the book).
I did like the depiction of the cold, dingy setting and the book is very atmospheric and sinister. It's a short read, which is good in lots of ways, especially in holding the reader's attention, but I would have felt more absorbed if there had been greater development of characters and backstory.
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This book was excellent; it propelled me through the story within just a few hours. It is utterly addictive, fast-paced and I was desperate to follow Vega as she tries to protect her brother and herself, in an effort to figure out why someone in her neighbourhood was killed. A murder Vega already knows too much about.

Vega is a fantastic main character, she is a particularly curious and observant narrator which means we don't miss a thing as the reader - equally, her mind works so quickly that you become immediately hooked and reliant upon her to tell you what she sees next. Her little village is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and finding out about each character whilst piecing together the puzzle of a murder was really interesting. The very fact that Vega's brother was instrumental to the murder, but you don't know how instrumental for a little while, made their story really interesting to me and it kept me guessing as to what she might do with the knowledge she gains. I love unpredictable, ballsy characters like Vega!

I absolutely recommend this book. It can be a little disjointed at first as Vega jumps between what she knows and saw, to what she is then later finding out. But is absolutely worth the confusion - fantastic characters, interesting plot twists and a well-developed setting. The perfect little psychological thriller.
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This was a good read. I read it in only two days and was easy to pick up and start reading again. I enjoyed the story and would recommend it to others
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