Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson (Nordic Finds Challenge)

When I was in third grade, there was a girl I greatly admired in my class who checked out a Moomin book from the library. Wanting to be like her, I also checked one out.

I hated it. I didn’t get it, I thought it was boring and so I returned it. And I haven’t picked up a Moomin book since.

Some of you may know of my passion with Traveler’s Factory Notebooks. I have begun a small collection of them, since 2016, and when I saw the special collaboration I hungered after one of these:

It is a brown passport size traveler’s notebook with an embossed picture of Little My on the front, and it is only sold in Japan. “Well,” I thought, “at least I have access to the book.”

And so, I began reading Moominland Midwinter last night, and this time I am utterly entranced. It is one of those books, in my opinion, which is written for children but is really better suited to adults. For the sentences and phrases are powerful when you know enough to appreciate them.

Consider the descriptions of snow:

At dawn the snowdrift on the roof began to move. It went slithering down a bit, then it resolutely coasted over the roof edge and sat down with a soft thump.

p. 5


The valley was enveloped in a kind of grey twilight. It also wasn’t green any longer, it was white. Everything that had once moved had become immobile. There were no living sounds. Everything angular was now rounded.

p. 9

Moomintroll awakes when a bit of moonlight shines right in his face, and he cannot fall asleep again. He feels terribly lonely, where, “in the drawing room also, grouped around the biggest porcelain stove of the house, the Moomin family lay sleeping their long winter sleep.” And so, he goes out to find Snufkin who went to the South in October.

Of course, Moontroll doesn’t make it, for how could the story continue without his interactions with Little My, Too-ticky, or the Groke? Each character is so charming and so original, that I read this book with great delight.

Favorite quotes:

And suddenly Sorry-oo (the dog) knew that he had made a mistake. They weren’t his brethren at all, and one couldn’t have any fun with them (the wolves). One could only be eaten up, and possibly have the time to regret that one had behaved like an ass. He stopped his tail, which was wagging from pure habit, and thought, “What a pity, I could have slept all those nights instead of sitting here and longing myself silly…”

p. 109


Little My had always had the gift of having fun on her own, and whatever she might have been thinking about spring, she felt no need to talk about it.

p. 117


“Why didn’t you talk like that in the winter?”said Moomintroll, “It’d have been such a comfort. Remember I said once: ‘There were a lot of apples here,’ and you just replied: ‘But now there’s a lot of snow.’ Didn’t you understand that I was melancholy?”

Too-tricky shrugged her shoulders. “One has to discover everything for oneself,” she replied. “And get over it all alone.”

p. 118


“I must get up before the others next spring,” Moominmamma said. “How nice to be on your own for a bit and do what you like.”

p. 130

Read this for Anna Book Bel’s Nordic Finds Challenge 2023 as, of course, Tove Jansson is from Finland.

The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck (translated from the Finnish by Kristian London)

It is a wonder that Max Seeck is able to bring all the layers of this mysterious puzzle into one cohesive piece. As I read, I couldn’t imagine how Jessica Niemi’s life as a police detective could relate to the life she briefly lived in Venice as a young woman: in the arms of Colombano, a handsome and skilled violinist whose dark intentions combined with his amorous ways.

Several women who resemble her, with dark hair and a beautiful face, are slowly being discovered as murdered. The first is the wife of a famous author, who is found dressed in a black evening gown sitting at the dining room table with high-heeled shoes placed by her bare feet. Worst of all, perhaps, is the hideous grin which transforms her face into a macabre mask even in death.

At first, the police department assumes someone is re-enacting all the murders which have occurred in the author’s best selling novels. Indeed, it appears that they follow the descriptions of women being crushed to death, or drowning in icy water. But when strange words in Latin (Malleus Maleficarum) are found transcribed in the snow on a roof, and men with horns appear to Jessica as shadowy creatures in the night, it becomes clear that much more is going on than what had been merely described in the author’s best sellers.

The tension is ever building and suspenseful. Never once could I predict quite where the plot was going, nor did I feel manipulated in its execution. Perhaps most compelling of all is the character Seeck created in his lead detective; she is a heroine who lives in a studio apartment never wishing her colleagues to be aware of the wealth she has, as evidenced within the connecting apartment next door. It is a wealth she inherited at her parents’ demise and has come to terms with as the novel completes.

The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck is published today. You may listen to an excerpt of the opening pages by clicking below. Alternatively, this book can already by found at retailers such as Barnes & Noble.

Max Seeck devotes his time to writing professionally. An avid reader of Nordic noir for personal pleasure, he listens to film scores as he writes. His accolades include the Finnish Whodunit Society’s Debut Thriller of the Year Award 2016. Max Seeck has a background in sales and marketing and loves to promote his works, and is fluent in English and German.

Mailbox Monday: Four I Am Eager to Read

Children of The Cave is published by Peirene Press. It is the winner of the 2017 Finnish Savonia Literature Prize and the Kuvastaja prize for the best Finnish Fantasy Novel. It is described as, “A Gothic Victorian tale about forest children, which address the limits of science and faith…written as a diary this postmodern, ethical narrative asks questions about how we encounter the ‘other’.”

The Nocilla Trilogy includes Nocilla Dream, Nocilla Exprience, and Nocilla Lab published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on February 19, 2019. It I has been translated from Spanish, and is described as “a shot to the heart of the traditional novel.” ~J. Ernesto Ayala-Dip, Babelia

The End of Loneliness has been translated from the German by Charlotte Collins, and was published on January 29, 2019 by Penguin Books. It spent over eighty weeks on Germany’s bestseller list, won the European Union Prize for Literature, and was selected as German independent bookstores’ favorite book of 2016. It has been translated into 27 languages, and is described as “a profoundly moving portrait of what can be lost and what can never be let go.”

Seventeen is a Japanese novel by Hideo Yokoyama, bestselling author of Six Four. It is described as “an investigative thriller set amid the after math of disaster.” It is, of course, something I will read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 12 which ends April 1, 2019.

More Mailbox Monday books can be found here.