RESIN by Ane Riel

Jens Horder used to be the most beautiful man in the area. It’s not just his wife and mother who think that. All those who knew him before he became the ghost – quiet, kind, but seemingly completely distorted – that they know today think so.

Once upon a time, residents of the small town of Korsted ordered coffins from Jens’ father, Silas Horder. No one has ever known a man who cared for trees with so much love and devotion and who, with more care and feeling, made the last resting places for their loved ones.

What was said in the coffin stayed in the coffin. That was the deal.

RESIN by Ane Riel

The Horder family lived on a peninsula called Head, which was connected to the mainland by an embankment that would be passable only at low tide. No one else went there because no one knew what to do with so much forest. Life for the rest of the Korista population took place in other, less isolated places.

One day, while he was staying in the woods with his sons, Silas Horder was struck by lightning, killing him on the spot. Having no one to call for help, Jens Horder, then a skinny thirteen-year-old, dragged his father home himself.

Shortly after his father’s death, Jens’ older brother, Mogens, left Head. Jens couldn’t leave what he loved so much because of his father — his forests and trees and all those wonderful things he could make with his own hands. But over time, this gentle boy became a withdrawn, hard-working, and honest young man whom the inhabitants of Korsted saw less and less.

The man they saw from time to time — when he delivered the Christmas trees he grew and sold — was unrecognizable. Tragedy did such a thing to a man, they knew – first he lost his father, and recently his only daughter. Not knowing how to comfort that broken man, they left him alone — that seemed to be all Jens needed from them.

Of course, none of them could have guessed what was going on at night, when everyone on Korsted was asleep. Of course they couldn’t imagine how much Jens Horder’s inability to save the people he loved had ruined him. Of course, they couldn’t even imagine the horrors that deep love and the need to protect those they love can do…

In a place where I had never looked for recommendations and ideas to read before, I first noticed this book. The only thing that attracted me to her then was the cover. If I had decided on the basis of the genre and the plot described whether I would read it, I would probably have briefly weighed it a few more times before forgetting it forever.

But one other thing sponsored me to give the opportunity to the first chapter – the fact that I decided to dedicate 2020, as far as circumstances allow, to reading books written by women and still try to discover some new authors. And I plan to continue that in 2021.

Nordic noir (or Scandi noir) is a genre that has been captivating readers all over the world in recent years, including those in Croatia, and which I bypass in a wide arc. I tried. Stieg Larsson disappointed me – even today I don’t understand what fascinated readers. Jo Nesbø and I tried to find each other through a few books, but we quickly concluded that we didn’t fit.

Henning Mankell, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Erik Axl Sund – they all left me indifferent.

The decision to read books written by women in 2020 made me stop this time. Ane Riel. A woman, obviously. So come on, out of some mild guilt I felt for neglecting a genre that readers love, I decided to give the first chapter a chance.

That evening I tried to go to bed at least 3 or 4 times, but after ten minutes of lying down I would quietly get up and go to the living room to read “just one more chapter”. Sometime around 04:00 in the morning it was clear to me that there was nothing to sleep about and that I had better finish the book as soon as possible, otherwise there would be no sleep the next night.

For about 2 weeks, the cover of this book was on the blog in the “book of the week” section, and I don’t know if anyone noticed it then. I don’t even know if any of you who follow me have noticed that she got five Goodreads stars.

No author has ever intertwined two feelings, two separate impressions, in this way. I have never met a character (characters), in fact, who evoke such deep, fundamental understanding, compassion and emotion in me – as I watch them perform some, at best unconventional, and at worst disgusting, shocking, utterly disturbed things. All the horror of this novel springs from endless, sincere love, from the need to protect those we love the most.

Until I read “Resin,” I didn’t know that I could, on a biochemical level, experience this mixture of feelings and emotions, and I didn’t know that after that I could continue to live with myself because, GOD, I understand. I’m not a monster, but I understand perfectly.

Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps I’m sick, because I don’t regret anything.

RESIN by Ane Riel

I intentionally don’t tell you anything more than this because I know that this amazing book will be read by all those who already know me and who know that I don’t give away five Goodreads stars so easily. The book will be read by those who have trusted me for years when it comes to recommendations. When it comes to this book, I only care about the trust of such readers and followers. I don’t care what others read – I want “my” people to read the best, most original, most intriguing books.

And “Resin” is a book that is like that from beginning to end. Literally to the end. Literally to the last sentence that will cause you to suddenly draw air into your lungs and widen your eyes. Of course, only if you started reading from the beginning. If you run now to read it right away, it won’t mean anything to you at all.

Although the book, after being first published in 2015 in Denmark, was nowhere cataloged or presented as a crime novel or psychological thriller, it very quickly won all the Scandinavian awards given to books from precisely these genres.

I read it in a brilliant English translation by Charlotte Barslund; the atmosphere and style of writing (translation?) are the first things that won me over in this book, before the story itself wrapped all its limbs around me and dragged me with it to all those places where a child should not be…

The exciting news is that the Danish film company Zentropa has bought the film rights and that the film has already been released in the last month of 2019. Unlike reading Scandinavian writers, I am happy to watch their films. The title of the film is Harpiks and like the book I wholeheartedly recommend it to you.

4 thoughts on “RESIN by Ane Riel”

  1. This sounds like a fascinating read. I love those books that you just can’t put down even if it is silly o’clock in the morning and know you must get some sleep!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ummm this sounds SO unique! I’ve never read a book quite like this and the plot definitely piques my interest. I’ll have to look into it even further, but your review was wonderful. I’m fascinated!

    Liked by 1 person

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