October is the Coldest Month

Vega Gillberg is sixteen years old when the police come knocking at her door looking for her older brother. Jakob is missing, Vega hasn’t heard from him in several days but she knows she has to find him before the police do. Jakob was forced to become an accessory to a terrible crime against his will. What no one knows is that Vega was also there that fateful night, but from her hiding place she wasn’t able to see much. Now she must try to find out what truly happened in order to clear her brother’s name.

In the rural community where the Gillberg family live, life is tough, the people are even tougher, and old feuds never die. As Vega sets out to find her brother, she must navigate a threatening landscape rife with sinister men and a forest that appears ready to devour her. Vega is wracked with worry for her brother. But she is also coming to terms with the new feelings she has, such as the longing she reluctantly feels for a boy that she has sworn to forget – the one who took her virginity and then betrayed her in the worst way. And what should she do with the confusing thoughts she suddenly finds herself having about her brother’s best friend? How long before her mother sees through her lies? During a damp and raw week in October, the door to the adult world swings open and Vega realizes that once she has crossed the threshold there is no turning back to childhood.

October is the Coldest Month is a suspenseful crime novel with unexpected twists and turns, but it is also a powerful story of a teenage girl’s awakening – sexual, emotional, and intellectual. Master storyteller Christoffer Carlsson makes his debut in the YA-genre and builds a world that is both claustrophobic and liberating. At the heart of this compact page-turner is the irresistible Vega Gillberg, a complex protagonist who is sure to find her way straight into the hearts of young adult readers. Vega’s story is on one hand very dramatic, but her struggle with her family and finding a place in the world around her is also intensely universal.

During the Gothenburg Book Fair 2016, October is the Coldest Month was named ‘Best Crime Novel of the Year for Young Readers’ by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy.

“To read it you can be sixteen years old, but you can also be considerably older than sixteen. This is a multi-layered tale about a young person. […] Christoffer Carlsson is called our country noir writer, and is one of our most interesting crime writers.”
Yukiko Duke, Gomorron Sverige, 4 stars (SWEDEN)

“A razor-sharp, arresting story about people on the fringes of society, desperately fighting to survive.”
Ingalill Mosander, Aftonbladet (SWEDEN)

“A gritty, edgy thriller that will get under your skin.”
Sunday independent (ireland)

“A compulsive read […] Gripping.”
The big issue (UK)

“The setting is perfectly described. Desolate, melancholy, increasingly frightening. It is skillfully interlaced with the characters – those who still live there and those who, for one reason or another, have disappeared. Those who hold the power and those who barely know how to read it. The season does its part – foggy, cold, damp. Merely the names of the places give the reader the shivers. The style is easy, the chapters short. But it’s precisely that which brings such a fatal weight to the people’s desperate fight for survival. October is the Coldest Month is hard-boiled but also a poignant thriller.”
BTJ, 5/5 (Sweden)

“A razor-sharp, arresting story about people on the fringes of society, desperately fighting to survive.”

“Christoffer Carlsson’s October Is the Coldest Month, translated deftly from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles, is one of the first Scandi noir books for teens to be published in the UK. In a small rural community, the arrival of a police officer at the front door prompts 16-year-old Vega to find her older brother, Jakob, and uncover the truth about what happened the night a man died. The desolate landscape is the perfect backdrop for this taut tale of old family feuds and unfurling secrets.”
The Irish Times (IRELAND)

The milieu is both claustrophobic and fascinating. […] He knows exactly how to build his narrative. […] Once you have started reading it’s hard to tear yourself away. […] Fingers crossed for Christoffer to write more YA novels in the future.”
Hallandsposten (Sweden)

“Everyone knows about Scandi noir but are you aware it extends to teen fiction? October is the Coldest Month is one of the first YA novels of its kind to be translated into English. It should win over a younger audience to the ice and the cold, the grime and grit the genre does so well. […] Vega Gillberg is 16 when the police come looking for her older brother Jakob, who’s vanished after an appalling crime. She has mixed motives for finding him before the cops do. Vega braves the hard faces and long-held grudges of a rural Swedish community. On one level, she’s a typical adolescent  and on another, as we learn more about her complicity that fateful night, Vega has come of age, stepping into an adult world full of doubt and menace. Taut, tense and thick with atmosphere.”
The Sydney Morning Herald (AU)

“this Scandi thriller is short and taut — and all the better for it. Carlsson’s spare style suits the bleak rural setting he portrays in a remote part of Sweden where inhabitants earn a living by hook or by crook.”

“I have a strange love for all things Scandinavian, and this fitted that craving perfectly. It was a very quick read, very gripping, a true page turner. A very simple story, written very well. It is hard really to say much more without giving the story away, but it has made me want to read more by this author.”

October is the Coldest Month is a book with a milieu and mood that creeps under your skin. Christoffer Carlsson once again proves how skillfully he conveys a very particular atmosphere and how well he portrays a dark side of rural Sweden.
Lottens bokblogg, blog (Sweden)

“I loved this book. Beautifully written, with an atmosphere I could taste, October is the Coldest Month had me questioning the line between rescue and culpability in an unflinching, white-knuckle read.”
Dianne Touchell, Author of A Small Madness

“Gritty Nordic Noir that grips you from the get go.”
Tim Pegler, Author of Five Parts Dead

“Each twist and turn ripples with menace. Gripping.”
Anne Cassidy, Author of Looking for JJ

“The writing is as lean and edgy as the characters. Utterly believable and utterly compelling.”
Ellie Marney, author of the Every series

Christoffer Carlsson (1986) is a writer from Marbäck, Sweden. He holds a PhD in Criminology from the University of Stockholm and is the author of several critically acclaimed crime novels. Blaze Me a Sun (2021) is his latest novel.

Learn more about Christoffer Carlsson