Very, very mixed impressions.
The novel “The Thin Sword” has all the hallmarks of high-quality literature: good style, excellent translation, original plot, multi-layeredness and deep psychologism.
I'll tell you the plot (I think parents should find out what happens in this book before giving it to their children).
Sasha has a sad dad and a tender, sad mother dying of cancer. Mr. Death comes for his mother and takes her with him, but Sasha cannot come to terms with this and goes in pursuit to return his mother.
So he finds himself in the kingdom of the dead. Having got here in the usual way, the souls are reborn - into pigs, dogs or birds, three peoples inhabit these lands. Mister death pulls out a new creature from the mortal coil, cherishes it and nurtures it, grows it and releases it into a new - afterlife - life. There are no additional meanings with animals here: pigs are not bad, birds are not good. Ordinary peoples, each nation occupies a separate territory, and each has its own business. There is a long-standing enmity between them, but all the residents simply adore Mr. Death. The appearance of a boy “from the other side” threatens their master with trouble, so everyone tries to stop Sasha.
However, friends are also there, and with them, with these anthropomorphic animals, Sasha gets to Mr. Death’s house. Their journey across the country is a real road movie, they will have to sit in a dungeon and bask in a luxurious castle, drown in rapids and work in a rose garden, poison themselves with unknown berries, participate in battles, and ask strangers to spend the night. This is how they become one team.
Arriving at the palace of Mr. Death, Sasha discovers his mother in her previous guise; Mr. Death fell in love with her and did not transform her into another creature. And, of course, he is not going to part with her and let her go to the world of the living. But he doesn’t drive Sasha away either; the boy spends a lot of time with his mother, until he finally manages to outwit his owner. Sasha comes up with a way to cure her mother in the kingdom of death, and returns with her, healthy and thriving, home to her father.
The whole book looks like a dream, as if shrouded in haze. Despite the talking piglets and fencing dogs in finery and jewelry, in mood and meaning this is not a fairy tale - rather, a novel-parable, a novel-metaphor.
So what caused conflicting feelings from reading it? Exactly what mom returns to the world of the living. In a children's book about death, I wanted to see the message that those who crossed the last line can be “touched with your heart”, that they are not bad “there”; in the end, that there is something “there” at all, but certainly not a happy ending with resurrection. This book, in my opinion, can be started to be read at an age when a person is already 100% aware that those who have left cannot be returned, and cannot be so deceived. What age is this? Probably since I was 14. I strongly disagree with the publisher’s opinion that this book is for children over 8 years old. I’m afraid that at 8 or even 10 years old, a person may harbor hope that everything can still be improved, because Sasha succeeded...
But for a young adult - yes, an interesting attempt to look into the depths of the mystery of death.
View the book "The Subtle Sword" by Frida Nilsson