The final book in the Oland Quartet, The Voices Beyond by Johan Theorin, is quite different to the other three, but no less impressive. While it doesn’t quite have the haunting, almost dream-like and supernatural quality of the other three (mainly because the majority of the tale is set mostly in the present), it does have a sense of suspense and impending peril, almost from the very first page.
Like the other three books, certain familiar characters are present, Gerlof Davidsson, the elderly grandfather who has appeared in all books, plays a major role, not just as a touchstone for the residents of the island and the history that he’s borne witness too, but also for the younger generations who either live or holiday upon the isle. One of the newcomers is a boy, Jonas Kloss, nephew of the owner of a big and profitable resort on the island that is filled to the brim with tourists each summer – this one being no exception.
Arriving with his ex-con father and older brother, Jonas is given tasks to perform but also plenty of free time. When his older brother and cousins abandon him one night, Jonas sets out on a midnight ride in an inflatable boat, drifting with the tide, dreaming of what might be. When he is almost sunk by a ship that emerges out of the dark and his forced to clamber aboard, he bears witness to something that absolutely terrifies him. Fleeing, he dives off the ship, risking death by drowning rather than remaining onboard. He arrives on shore, wet, shaken, only to be found by Gerlof who provides him succour, listening to the boy’s tale of zombies and murderers with a healthy dose of cynicism.
But if there’s one thing readers of this series understand about Gerlof it’s that he has an open mind and heart and is slow to dismiss even the incredible. When other strange things begin to happen on the island and other people connected to the Klosses are either murdered or disappear, Gerlof understands something greater is afoot, something that has its roots in Oland’s past. If there’s something Gerlof excels at, it’s linking the present with the past and so begins another investigation into Oland’s inhabitants, its history and the reason behind one man’s dreadful and long awaited revenge…
Beautifully paced and written, this is a terrific conclusion to a fabulous series that draws on familiar characters while introducing us to some new ones as well. The landscape of the island and, indeed, of Sweden itself and the other lands invoked by this tale become as much a character as the wonderfully crafted people. This book was so hard to put down, yet I didn’t want to finish it either.