Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review–The Devil’s Sanctuary

Marie Hermanson (born 1956) is a Swedish writer and journalist who has written several intriguing novels with a surrealistic touch. Her earlier novels have not been translated into English, but this one, which I just recently listened to in Swedish, has. So I thought I’d mention it here. The Swedish title is Himmelsdalen – ‘Paradise Valley’ – but in English it has been named The Devil’s Sanctuary. This in itself I think reflects the duality at the very core of this psychological thriller: The difficulty (sometimes) of deciding what is what, what is good or bad, truth or lie – and even perhaps who is who…

Daniel and Max are identical twins, with a complex relationship ever since childhood. The story starts out with Daniel going to visit his brother while he is staying in a recovery clinic near a small village in a secluded valley in the Alps.

On the surface it seems more like a peaceful holiday resort than anything else, but when Daniel is asked to take his brother’s place for a few days, his perspective begins to change… 

Be prepared for some twists and turns (or ups and downs) before you get to the end of this novel!

6 comments:

  1. I love books about identical twins, and used to wish i had one when very young.

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    1. I think a lot of people are fascinated with the idea of twins. Makes me wonder, suddenly, whether there are more twins in literature than there are in reality - proportionally?

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  2. Sounds intriguing!
    I often wonder why a certain book title is translated a certain way. Sometimes it fits, sometimes it doesn't, or would have been just as good in its literal translation.
    "Himmelsdalen" sounds more like "Heaven Valley" to me, but from your description I suppose "The Devil's Sanctuary" fits also.

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    1. Meike, the book has also been translated into German, with the title 'Himmelstal', which I think would bear the same wide range of connotations as it does in Swedish. I can see the problem with translating that name into English though, because in English you'd have to choose between 'heaven' and 'sky', and neither word would cover all the possible allusions implied by "himmel" - which in Swedish can refer either to the sky or spiritual heaven/paradise.

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  3. This seems like a book I would enjoy...just the time to sit and read now is all I need.

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    1. Virginia, one of the few advantages of our winter climate is that it does tend to encourage one to escape into a good book!!!

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