A legend of a long-dead murderer buried in a mysterious maze. A cruel, childish trick gone wrong. A dangerous vow made in trust by a shy and lonely young boy. And somewhere in the idyllic Swedish countryside, a centuries-old entity is summoned from its thorny grave.
Fourteen years later, twenty-two-year-old Fredrik Niequist returns from his travels, a brilliant financier who intends to break new ground in the Swedish agricultural industry by commercializing local nature magic. He is also newly engaged to a wealthy childhood friend in a cynical and loveless partnership.
Twenty-year-old Lauris Ahlberg, meanwhile, turns his mind to botany as a promising apprentice to an English botanic occultist. As he studies a flower species displaying marks of the night world, he realizes the tainted flowers' sudden appearance near his home and the ominous pattern they form signify a terrifying presence coming from a familiar source.
When Fredrik and Lauris cross paths again, old wounds break open, and promises of forever after ring hollow as the two awkwardly rekindle their friendship. And in the meantime, a creeping threat takes physical shape, breaking past its prison of thorns in order to lay claim to what has long belonged to it.
|Schalken the Painter BBC adaptation|
This book is the fifth in the Arcana Europa series, and it's set in Sweden this time around. The magic in that country revolves around botany (inspired by Carl Linnaeus - Swedish botanist, father of modern taxonomy), and two other sources of inspiration were M.R. James's "Mr. Humphreys and His Inheritance" and especially Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's "Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter". Both are short ghost stories, both are pretty creepy in their own ways, but Le Fanu's story has some serious teeth, and I love it.
Be aware that even though the book is part of a series, it's really a standalone novel, and you don't need to read the first four titles in order to understand the plot.
Anyway, for the book page, please go here. If you're interested in learning more about M.R. James's ghost story, go here. For Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, go here. And if you do purchase a copy, thank you, and I hope you enjoy the book. Happy reading!