Resin by Ane Riel
Resin is the brand new book from Danish author Ane Riel, following her award-winning debut novel The Butcher of Liseleje (not yet published in English).
Everyone thinks Liv is dead. It’s not so bad, she’s gotten used to hiding in the dark of the container whenever anyone approaches their home. Not that anyone comes by much anymore, not since her father put up the sign telling people to keep away.
It’s better this way, so her dad says, if people come and stick their noses in then she might have to leave. And no one leaves their little island; not grandma after she died, not even the baby. Her mother’s probably too big to leave now anyway, Liv’s not sure she could even get out of bed let alone fit through the doorway.
She’s a bit worried about the animals too, is her dad remembering to feed them properly? Among the boxes piled high, the newspapers, broken machinery and other items her dad has kept she knows the rabbits in the house are thriving but the farm animals are either quiet or making the most horrendous sounds.
Resin is an incredibly atmospheric and unsettling story about one man’s descent into isolation and the impact it has on his family.
Liv’s father, Jens, lost his own dad at a young age and subsequent losses in his life left him with an inability to let go of anyone or anything. He was overcome by a need to preserve his loved ones in a way that they can stay with him forever.
The father and daughter relationship between Jens and Liv is heart-warming until you understand it’s foundations, then it becomes utterly heart-breaking instead. Jens relies on his young daughter to steal from surrounding houses and business so they can survive. There are moments in the novel where Jens asks for her help in some incredibly traumatic situations and her inner monologues clearly follow her confusion at wanting to help but also knowing deep down that something is very wrong.
Liv’s descriptions of her home are unnerving throughout the novel but it’s only when you are allowed to see it through an outsiders eyes does the full misery of her situation become clear. Jens hoards everything to gain a sense of control and his wife finds comfort in food; so much so that her size becomes unmanageable.
Resin is one of those uncomfortable novels that crawls under your skin and lurks there. I’ve thought about it numerous times since finishing it and I’m sure it’ll stay with me for a long time yet. It’s hard to categorise, with shades of horror, literary fiction and crime but it’s all the better for it. With an opening sentence of ‘The white room was completely dark when my dad killed my granny.’ you know you’re in for one hell of a story. Resin by Ane Riel is wonderfully unsettling, pulling you in with its creepy atmosphere and never letting you go for a minute.
If you like my review of Resin by Ane Riel then you’ll love Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman.