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Book summary and reviews of The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

The Rabbit Back Literature Society

by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

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  • Published:
  • Jan 2015
    352 pages
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About this book

Book Summary

Only nine people have ever been chosen by renowned children's author Laura White to join "The Rabbit Back Literature Society," an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, a young literature teacher. Soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual known as "The Game"? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura White's winter party? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, as Ella explores the Society and its history, disturbing secrets that had been buried start to come to light...

In Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen's chilling, witty novel, The Rabbit Back Literature Society, the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Sometimes, Jääskeläinen hits the right creepy note to make the hairs on the neck stand up, but sometimes the story crosses the line into just too weird." - Kirkus

"Has some Twin Peaks moments even if it tries a little too hard. Still, read with all the lights on!"Twin Peaks meets the Brothers Grimm." - The Telegraph (UK)

"Mixes the small-town surrealism of Twin Peaks with the clandestine-society theme of Donna Tartt's The Secret History." - The List (UK)

"Unnerving, enigmatic….Hints of Let the Right One In and Haruki Murakami's elliptical early science fiction novels flavor a creepy tale about mutating books, buried secrets and ghostly encounters." - Financial Times (UK)

"An exquisite balance of suspense, precision-engineered structure and darkly playful humour… fascinating. And fun" - SFX (UK)

"Charming and intriguing, switching from playful to creepy to heartfelt and back again...good fun." - Bookbag (UK)

"A novel about big questions...wonderful characters...Amazing." - TQR Stories (UK)

"Sly wit also characterizes The Rabbit Back Literature Society, a genre-defying Finnish novel." - Metro (UK)

"Charming, chilling and gripping from its very first page." - Bizarre (UK)

"Were you hooked onTwin Peaks? A secret fan of Northern Exposure? Obsessed with Fargo (the movie, not the TV series, naturally)? Then The Rabbit Back Literature Society has got your name written all over it."- Harper's Bazaar

"Jääskeläinen has created a puzzle box of a book that touches on the seeds of creativity, the corrosive qualities of convenient lies, and the fictions that our own memories construct and present as fact. It doesn't answer every question it poses or every mystery it presents, but that's half the point. The Rabbit Back Literature Society is an easy enough read, but a rather more difficult think. The reader will find themselves wandering the byways of the little town of Rabbit Back for a long while afterward." - Jonathan L. Howard, author of the Johannes Cabal series

"Enchanting, mysterious, and beguiling, The Rabbit Back Literature Society blurs the boundary between reality and mythology until it vanishes like the skyline in a snow-storm." - Mike Shevdon, author of Sixty-One Nails

"Fiendishly clever and great fun! The Rabbit Back Literature Society mixes the cruelty, humor and wonder of a classic fairy tale with the challenges, competition and mundane needs of modern life — especially the creative ambitions and need for approval that drive us from childhood on. A must for writers of any genre!" - Karen Engelmann, author of The Stockholm Octavo

This information about The Rabbit Back Literature Society was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review

Pamela H. (Winston Salem, NC)

"Read Me"
Follow Ella on a delightful, magical mystery tour through the warren of Rabbit Back Literature Society, where she encounters a party of quirky characters, who are not what they seem. She becomes curiouser and curiouser , as she struggles to discover the truth about the society, and herself in a world populated with Finnish folklore, punctuated by stark reality.

Portia A. (Mount Laurel, NJ)

A very strange book
If you love Lewis Carrol or Jasper Fford you will like this book. No doubt it is more than a little strange and, and at times weird. Maybe I'm also strange and a bit weird because I really enjoyed reading it. The translation is good and the Finnish references are very interesting. However if you want a straightforward plot, this is not your book.

Robert Solomon

Fantasy and Mystery in a Single Delicious Serving
TRBLS is a captivating suspenseful blend of Finnish mythology, mystery and fantasy. The plot is unusual and creative and the characters are well drawn.
In short, the novel is the story of the pursuit by a young woman, Ella, of the deepest secrets of the Rabbit Back Literature Society. The RBLS was the creation of heralded Finnish children's book author Laura White in whom Ella had an academic fascination. Over a span of years early in her career Laura recruited a small group of children mostly from her village of Rabbit Back to the Society. Laura identified the children as possessing extraordinary writing skills, and they all developed into promising authors.

Laura controls the children as a svelgali, and the Society takes on the trappings of a cult. As the story unfolds Laura comes to know the darkest corners of the Society's history and of the relationships between Laura and the members and the members with each other. Along the way we meet water sprites, gnomes, book viruses and a phantom who all contribute to the fusion between fantasy and reality, between dreams and life.

The prose is thoughtfully crafted which one can assume is a tribute to both the author and translator. The narrative invokes suspense, fear, pity and wonder... and prompts a few laughs along the way with a dose of campiness. Ella is brought to life with insightful self-reflection, and the physical elements of the narrative are so vividly described as to create a picture in the mind's eye. The descriptions of the winter scenes in and around Rabbit Back are particularly well crafted.

The plot has many twists and turns, and as the end of the book approaches there remain a number of hanging threads. Some of these threads are resolved in the surprising climax, but not all. At one level this lack of closure is unsettling, but more importantly the author has invited the reader's imagination to roam on the dynamic narrative landscape that he has created.

A book about books, authors and writing, TRBLS would be an excellent selection for book communities populated by serious adventuresome readers. Not so good for casual readers.

Sarah B. (Streamwood, IL)

Interesting
This is a fantastical mystery of sorts. I enjoyed much of this story. The bits of folklore, and the setting especially. This is definitely a winter book for me due to the atmosphere. The characters were not overly likable. I'd recommend this to anyone that enjoys Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.

Theresa D. (Amityville, NY)

PLEASANT SURPRISE!
I usually don't like Fantasies or Mysteries - and this book was a little of both. However, I do like books and libraries and that's what I liked about The Rabbit Back Literature Society. In some ways it was very whimsical and at other times it was very tender. The mystery portion carried me along so that I could not put it down. Although some happenings were never explained you have to believe that the Society was very effective. Give it a try!

Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)

Where do writers get their ideas?
The Rabbit Back Literature Society is like reading a slightly disturbing dream. Upon waking, there are some ingenious notions to capture in the bedside notebook but enough grotesqueries to hope for a nicer dream next time.

The main characters are each an archeology project, the ages of their lives revealed by the digging of the protagonist, Ella. Ella considers a camera that could capture a person's "entire chronological existence."

The book has a winter feel to it: lots of snow, a cold-hearted psychological game, and white as a color composed of myths.

Most of the plot strands tie together at the end. One surprise seems so right that it warms the entire book.

...14 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen Author Biography

Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen is well known in his native Finland for his fantasy and sci-fi narratives and has twice won the Kuvastaja Fantasy Prize given by Finland's Tolkien Society and four times won the Atorax Award for Fantasy. He is the author of The Rabbit Back Literature Society, teaches Finnish language and literature and is the father of three sons.

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