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Review: The Keepers of Metsan Valo - Wendy Webb

Genre: Supernatural thriller/horro

Published: Lake Union Publishing, October 5th 2021

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

An ancient family home surrounded by haunted woods, a splintered family reunited by a death, and ghostly whispers of the Vaki in the wind…. This supernatural thriller by Wendy Webb had all the tropes I love, and I’m happy to say it delivers on the vast majority of them.

After the passing of their matriarch Taika, a family gathers in their family home on Lake Superior, to pay their respects and honour their (grand-)mothers final wishes. It soon becomes clear that this won’t be the peaceful passing many of them had anticipated; tensions run high over Taika’s eccentric choices for her inheritance, strange occurrences around the house baffle the family and ghostly visions among the pines plague them all. And this is only the beginning… Can granddaughter Anni uncover the ancient secrets of Metsan Valo, before more harm can come to her family?

The Keepers of Metsan Valo did an amazing job of hooking me in from the start with its mysteries, ambience and sense of place. By far its biggest selling-point to me being the latter. With every sentence Wendy Webb brings to life the ancient isolated home, the misty groves surrounding them, and the Nordic spirits that may or may not reside within them. I could vividly picture every scene and even though I had to put the book down a few times during my reading, I always found myself quickly drawn back into the immersion. As a result of the authors talent for creating a vivid setting, the book has some incredibly strong imagery as well. Without spoiling any particular scenes, but some of them are a combination of beautiful, haunting, mystical and supercreepy…

Within this isolated and at times almost claustrophobic setting, the tension between these characters is palpable. Our protagonists Anni and her twin brother Theo are down to earth and likable from the start, yet many of the other family members feel emotionally a bit “off”. In all honesty, I’m not sure if this was intentional or due to some at times clunky character writing, but it added to the creepiness nonetheless. I would have personally liked a bit more depth and development regarding this family, their relationships and their history with each other. There’s a very strong set up here, reminding me almost of Festen by David Edlridge, and it almost felt like a missed opportunity that the story didn’t go down that psychological horror-route of familiar trauma.

Instead we focus on the unexplained occurrences: are they supernatural, or is there a rational explanation for all of it? Past the halfway point, I just couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out…

That is also however, when parts of the novel encounters some serious pacing problems, that left me feeling unsatisfied in the end. The set-up is ironclad, but by the time that was over, I could already tell there were too few pages left to tie it all together into a satisfying conclusion. And it was: as much as I enjoyed the journey, the ending felt hollow and rushed to me.

I’d nonetheless still recommend it for the journey alone, especially as an autumnal or early-Halloween mood-setter.

As a final note; as a medical student I have to point out some of the inaccuracies on this front, but I will have to spoil an element of the story to do so. BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD


1. I realise that there’s a supernatural element at play here, but THIS IS NOT HOW COMA’S WORK! Arden could not have woken up after what happened to her. If you lay submerged in water long enough for a school of minnows to take up residence in your mouth, you have irreparable brain damage and/or are braindead. No matter how many Vaki protect you, you do not wake up unharmed from something like that…

2. ““Nutrition and hydration” he said. The words made Anni’s skin crawl. She looked down at her sleeping mother, and tears stung at the back of her eyes. That was what doctors did for patients who were dying. Beyond care.”

I literally don’t know where the author gets this and I hope they correct it in the final version, as this just makes no sense. Giving a patient an IV with hydration and nutrients DOES NOT mean they are dying! Please authors, don’t spread misinformation about medical interventions….


Many thanks to Lake Union publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Find this book here on Goodreads.


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