Review | The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

A mystery without a solution. 3/5 stars.

The Rabbit Back Literature Society book cover

The blurb: Only nine people have ever been chosen by renowned children’s author Laura White to join “The Rabbit Back Literature Society,” an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, a young literature teacher.

Soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual known as “The Game”? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura White’s winter party? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, as Ella explores the Society and its history, disturbing secrets that had been buried start to come to light…

As ever, clicking on the cover image will take you to the book’s Goodreads page.

My take:

Lindsay at bookboodle gave me this book. She didn’t enjoy it that much because it was incredibly weird (you can read her review here). Knowing all the fantasy fiction I enjoy, she thought I might get on with the book a bit better than her 🙂

So, did I love it? Not really. One of the quotes on the front cover says “unnerving, enigmatic”: I suspect these are reviewer euphemisms for “muddled” and “baffling”. And this is a shame. Certain elements of the story are intriguing and the whole thing is well-written. But, on the whole, it’s a confusing hodge-podge which comes to no conclusions. As I read, I keep feeling as if I’d find all the answers just over the page… but no. In fact, the blurb poses four intriguing questions; the book only answers two. And, to be honest, “The Game” isn’t really a mysterious ritual. It’s just daft.

None of the characters are particularly likeable, although some of them make up for that by being entertainingly loopy. The Literature Society had the potential to be a fascinating treasure trove of buried secrets. Unfortunately it all gets muddled with suggestions of more supernatural goings-on which didn’t enhance the story. Another disappointment. The idea of books quietly re-writing themselves due to some sort of “book plague” is great and could have been the starting point for a strong plot line but nothing really comes of it.

I don’t really get on with magic realism. But in this book, the magic elements weren’t the problem, it was that they weren’t fully developed.

The ending was also unsatisfying. One big mystery is wrapped up, but others remain. The author admits that he wanted to leave things open to interpretation and was opaque on purpose. He’s gone so far as to write a blog post full of hints if you want to understand a bit more what the heck you’ve just read. I read it and it did help. But should you really need some sort of key to understand a book?!

Overall: if you enjoy being baffled by your books and don’t mind a bundle of well-written crazy, read this.

Claire Huston / Art and Soul

17 thoughts on “Review | The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

    • Thank you! It’s not a bad book at all, I just think it would have been better if the author had made it slightly clearer what was going on! I imagine if you read the book two or three times things would become clearer… if you had that sort of patience 🙂


  1. I bought this book ages ago purely because it has such a gorgeous cover. I’m kind of still intrigued to read it after reading your and bookboodle’s reviews but my brain can’t cope with baffling at the moment so I think it’ll stay on the TBR for now. At least it’s pretty to look at!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ideas are all great. And there are a few scenes – mainly those about how writers are terrible eavesdroppers to get ideas for their books – which are quite funny too. I don’t mind mysteries but I do need to have more of an idea what’s going on 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. I’m definitely intrigued! This looks like one of those books that is either a hit or a miss… I guess it has to be the right kind of crazy to properly enjoy it. 😉 I don’t think I will be getting a copy straight away, but I will keep it in mind in case I see a cheap copy of it some time. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am currently reading this book. I got really excited about it after I had read that the ending of The Crime and Punishment changed. I thought I could read more about this fascinating mutating plague. However, author focuses on The Rabbit Back Literature Society and its secrets. Nevertheless, I do not give up, I will finish the book anyways 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. It’s a very strange book, but at least the author gives you some answers.
      I was a little disappointed we didn’t find out more about the book plague because I thought that was one of the most interesting parts of the story!
      I hope you enjoy the rest of it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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