Stallo by Stefan Spjut, Sweden, 2012

The English translation of this very good Swedish thriller has the same name: Stallo, and, though I cannot comment on the translation, the original - all 592 pages - is definitely worth reading. Stefan Spjut's writing, especially his descriptions, is magnificent. He paints detailed pictures of small everyday, almost unessential, things and actions, and the reader has no choice other than to be physically drawn into the story. 

Stallo (a Lappish word) describes a troll that can 'hide' using animal forms, and the book is basically about trolls, elves, goblins and other supernatural creatures - some of them kind, others completely the opposite. The story revolves around a lost child and the three people - Susso, her mother, Gudrun, and her ex-boyfriend, Torbjörn - who criss-cross over the length and breadth of Sweden, trying to find out what happened and why. Not all questions are answered, but I feel that the author's main goal with this book is to make people think about how the supernatural affects our everyday lives, how we relate to nature and animals (so much part of our lives), and the parent-child relationship. Consequently, there must remain some questions without answers. 

 Photo of Stefan Spjut from
If I am to criticize anything, it would have to be the use of real people: John Bauer and Sven and Barbro Jerring among several. All these people are now deceased, so it is difficult to know if their viewpoints and experiences actually paralleled those described in the book. It is, of course, possible that Stefan Spjut is privy to special information about these people, but if this is not the case the inclusion of such people creates not only question marks and raised eyebrows but also a weak point in an otherwise masterfully executed story.