I had such high hopes about this book, that I guess, some disappointment was certain. I got hooked on Bator few years ago after reading Ciemno, prawie Noc and Chmurdalia. Earlier this year I read The Teardrop Island, a literary travel memoir from her trip to Sri Lanka, which, despite horrible reviews it got, I quite liked. Rok Królika (The Year of a Rabbit) is in a way a twin book to The Teardrop Island, it is the fictional child of Bator’s trip. Both books share a lot of motives, which is interesting, as it gives a glimpse of the creative process behind Rok Królika.
Julia Mrok, author of bestselling historical romances, decides to abandon her life, she feels she is in danger and has to run away. After careful preparations she is on the way, only to realize she didn’t exactly plan where to go. She ends up in a small town in Silesia, now called Ząbkowice Śląskie, but its former name, Frankenstein, suits the atmosphere much better. Julia rents a room in the Spa under the Rabbit and starts discovering the town’s dark secrets. Her ear ever so sensitive to a good story.
Bator’s language, as always, is full and very atmospheric, drawing the reader into this small, claustrophobic and slightly insane town. And yet I was not amazed by the book, the main character is not likable and even knowing that this was how Bator planned it, could not convince me to root for her. The story meanders between a horror and a thriller only to end in a completely ridiculous way. Though I must admit that the secret of the Spa under the Rabbit made me laugh a lot.
I just couldn’t get completely engaged in this story of awful people in a tiny, weird town. Somehow it felt like a waste of Bator’s skills. I can only wonder if my reaction would be different if I haven’t read The Teardrop Island. The book I was expecting has not materialized. I will keep on looking forward to the next books by Bator, because I really think she is a very capable writer and this was just a one off accident.