An atmospheric short novel, The White City follows Karin, once married to John, who had some sort of criminal connections. John has disappeared, leaving Karin with a baby girl (Dream) she’s not sure she even wanted. Not only that, the authorities are breathing down her neck about debts due to stolen money, and all of their “family” have abandoned her. Left alone to her devices, and to figure out how to survive, we follow Karin as she attempts to navigate this very new and very unfriendly world.
The entire novel takes place in the span of a few days, and it’s all completely from Karin’s point of view. It sucked me in more than I thought it would, and Ramvqist’s writing is absolutely beautiful. You can really empathize with Karin, as you delve deeper into her mind and story. You may not think she’s made the most intelligent choices, but you can empathize nonetheless. She’s going through so many things that get highlighted here: new motherhood, suddenly single motherhood, rags to riches overnight, the loss of any support system. All are deftly handled, and show what happens to the woman left behind after a man involved in organized crime disappears, a story that is rarely told in other mob stories like The Godfather (referring to the movie, never read the book).
This book was a very quick read for me. It was easy to read Ramvqist’s prose, and you really want to know where Karin might be headed. As you slowly piece things together, the picture becomes more and more complete. I did, however, have a few gripes with the book. For starters, it was billed as a psychological thriller. It definitely had the psychological part, but didn’t have the investment or excitement that I usually get out of a taut thriller. For me, it was a little slow-paced and atmospheric to qualify as thriller, but I still did very much enjoy it. The other main gripe I had was that after the slow, dreamlike quality of the novel, the ending felt very rushed. It also wasn’t very conclusive, which some people may not mind, but I’m not always a fan. I can see why it kind of works here, but still, not always my cup of tea.
Overall, if you like literary psychological studies, with fantastic writing and some crime connections, this is a great novel for you. I didn’t hate it, and I didn’t love it, but there were many things I appreciated about it. Ramvqist’s writing style and prose was amazing, and the novel is worth the read simply for that. Karin is a character you want to care about, even if you disagree with her choices. If the ending wouldn’t have felt so rushed, I would’ve been able to rate it a little higher, but I enjoyed it and hope you will too, if you choose to pick it up.
Note: I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Have you read this novel? Will you? Let me know in the comments below!