“I’ll tell you what happened in Tulisaari.”
Those are Annika’s last words to her daughter. Shortly after, she is killed in an accident and all her secrets are about to be revealed. After her mother’s sudden death, Emilia is overcome by grief. As sorrow turns into curiosity, she starts to delve into her mother’s mysterious past. The search takes her to the small town of Tulisaari in Finland, where her mother grew up, a place Annika had left for good after a great tragedy occurred there. Emilia decides to find out for herself what really happened in Tulisaari all those years ago.
But someone doesn’t want her to find out the truth…
Below is an extract from The Daughter, the first novel of the Tulisaari trilogy by Sara Onebbo.
Sunday 11th March 2012
I’ve been pacing your flat all day, circling overfilled cardboard boxes and stepping over plastic bags, walking from one end of the flat to the other, trying to feel your presence. The scent of apple blossom is gone, and all your possessions are categorised, organised and packed. The walls are bare and your (our) welcoming home feels neutral and cold. You definitely don’t live here anymore and it’s time for me to move on, too. When the night started to fall I cautiously entered your office, which was the only room still untouched; the need to know what was hidden in the locked desk drawer was overwhelming. What was so important that it must be hidden and locked away, even though no one, except you, ever went into the office? Then it hit me, I hadn’t tried the keys on the key ring I found in your handbag! Perhaps one of those keys would fit?
Not being able to shake the feeling that I was doing something I shouldn’t, I didn’t turn on the light and sat in semi-darkness at your desk. A faint glow from the streetlights found its way into the dark room and cast an eerie glow on the walls. To see better, I switched on the desk lamp. I directed the light beam towards the locked drawer and tested all the keys one by one. After the third try, a soft click told me that I had found the right one. As I slowly pulled out the drawer I was apprehensive of what I might find. At first glance, I thought it was empty and felt both relief and disappointment. But as I looked again two thin envelopes, obscured by the darkness, appeared. In one envelope was a letter from a law firm in Tulisaari. A rusty key rattled out when I opened it. The letter was formal and explained that Maikki mumma had left her cottage to you but all other assets to uncle Jussi. So, he’s alive! I suppose it means that the cottage belongs to me now? At least, I’ll have somewhere to stay when I go there. Every cloud has a silver lining, as you used to say. In the other envelope, I found a newspaper article dated to the summer of 1991, the summer when something had happened that made you break all contact with your family in Finland. The last time you set foot in your childhood home. The article was written sometime in the late summer. When I realised what it was about, I felt as if I had been lowered into liquid nitrogen, all the blood in my body froze to ice in an instant. I don’t know why I reacted like that, the tragedy described in the text had surely nothing to do with you, and certainly not with me. Why have you saved the article all these years? I tell myself that it’s because the terrible incident took place close to where you grew up. But why lock it away in your private office? Why was the key attached to a key ring that you kept in the purse you carried with you at all times!
I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep after what I had just read. I sat on the floor with my back to the wall and my eyes fixed on the front door. I felt exposed and vulnerable, as if I had just disturbed some evil spirit, yet unknown to me, and woken it from a long slumber. Shadows moved eerily over the wall every time a car passed in the street below. The world inside your flat was quiet, the humming from the fridge in the kitchen the only sound breaking the silence.
Read more of this gripping novel here.
Sara Önnebo was born in Sweden in 1976. She went to university in Melbourne, Austalia, and holds a Ph.D. in Biological & Chemical Sciences. After some years of working in medical research in London and Barcelona, she is back in Sweden, where she is living with her husband and their two children on the south coast. When she is not writing or reading, she is often found on the yoga mat or with a camera in her hand.
The Daughter is her first suspense novel in English and will be available in the spring of 2018. She got the inspiration for the book on a visit to her husband’s family in Finland where she experienced her first smoke sauna, bright summer nights and later on, the cold and dark winter.