Reviews of Secret Passages in a Hillside Town:


”A beguiling, unexpected blend of whimsical romance and suspenseful noir.”

Arts & Culture

”All the same, having created a narrative with such always-shifting perimeters allows Jaaskelainen to get away with much in this delightful, magical, inventive – if meandering – story about lost love and second chances.”

World Literature Today

”Jääskeläinen’s first book translated into English, The Rabbit Back Literature Society, was a genre mash-up: a surreal fantasy metaphysical murder mystery. Similarly, there are multiple ways to frame the unique, shapeshifting Secret Passages.

On the surface, the book is an amusing story of a grumpy man’s midlife crisis à la Fredrik Backman’s Ove. On another level, the novel’s a lurking childhood mystery in the style of Per Petterson’s I Refuse. Look again, it’s an exploration of memories reminiscent of Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. Go deeper for a psychological examination of gender harking back to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Crawl far enough into the warren maze of Jääskeläinen’s plot and uncover a parody of data analytics, Facebook, cinema, and book publishing echoing the best of William Gibson—with a touch of Anaïs Nin.”


”…gloriously strange, witty and disturbing.” 94/100


Reviews of The Rabbit Back Literature Society:


(in Danish, English translation of the review by Google)

This strange book, which contains magic, but also both horror and crime, I will place somewhere between the strangeness of Haruki Murakami and the intensity of Carlos Ruiz Zafón. If I have to place it somewhere. But it also gives associations to David Lynch, if one imagines his surrealism, set in the framework of an ordinary Jutland provincial town. Mechanics author Patrick Ness is also the master of; to allow the reader to move in an underworld that lies just on the other side of reality. Maybe it’s an adventurous crime?

The Telegraph

”This wonderfully knotty novel, the first of its Finnish author’s works to be   translated into English, is a peculiar metafiction, a very grown-up fantasy   masquerading as quirky fable. Unexpected, thrilling and absurd, it is   primarily an irreverent exploration of the art of writing itself, of how far   a tale can credibly stretch.”

The Independent

”It’s hard to convey the peculiar atmosphere of this novel – absurd but believable, sinister but enjoyable, beautiful but disquieting. This is Jaaskerlainen’s first novel to be published in English (and hats off to Lola Rogers for an elegant, literary and readable translation). Let’s hope there are more to come.”


”What makes this book special is the blending of style and substance, the way the writer writes the writers, in a unique vein of fantasy-realism unlike anything else you’ve ever read. Jääskeläinen doesn’t explain or rationalise, and there are loose ends.”


”TRBLS is a novel about big questions that have been jabbing us in the cerebellum for thousands of years:  the meaning of life, death, the existence of God … and how we as humans rarely ever truly discuss and debate these ideas, concepts and ultimate truths, instead opting for the small talk and quotidian prattle that sums up our day-to-day interactions. What saves it from bogging down in a philosophical morass of college text book proportions are the wonderful characters who people it. You prick them, (or invoke Rule 21) and they bleed. They act their parts upon the page so naturally we as readers forget they are literary constructs, and the entertainment keeps us turning.”


”It’s a wonderful and unusual story, quite dark in places, at once a slightly strange and yet fairly regular story of a young woman finding her feet in life.”

Beauty in Ruins

”Go into The Rabbit Back Literature Society looking for a
straightforward bit of narrative prose, and you’re likely to be disappointed.
Prepare yourself instead for a multi-layered character study, and a sort of
imaginative treatise on the act of writing (and remembering), and you’ll find a
lot to appreciate here. It’s quirky and odd, as likely to make you raise your
eyebrows as curl your lips, but it really does work.”

Books Bones & Buffy

The Rabbit Back Literature Society was a happy discovery for me, an atmospheric story that’s hard to categorize. For readers who appreciate a slow unraveling of events, mysteries that seem random at first but then merge into a complete story, and characters that don’t always behave the way you expect, this book should not be missed.”

Fantasy Book Review

”I found this book very interesting. It did start slowly and it did take time for me to warm to the characters, but this was more like unwrapping a pass the parcel, the more you read the more you want to know what is at the very heart, under all the layers that are being revealed one at a time. With a large cast of characters and back stories to delve into this book will not leave you disappointed, but will hopefully leave you as surprised and satisfied as I felt upon finishing the story.”

The Bookbag

”The Rabbit Back Literature Society contains a pretty bizarre plot set in an incredibly peculiar little town which is all written unconventionally. Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s first book to be translated into English is charming and intriguing, switching from playful to creepy to heartfelt and back again, it really is good fun.”

Our Book Reviews Online

”If you fancy something a little different, give this a go; it won’t disappoint.”

Whimsies & Words

”The Rabbit Back Literature Society is exquisitely written, immensely quotable, with a wicked sense of humour to keep you on your toes- Lola Rogers has done a brilliant job on translation! If you like to be challenged in your reading, your thinking, your sense of reality, this is the perfect book to curl up to -it  has a similar feel to Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane.”



”Superbly written (and admirably translated by Lola M Rogers) and taking risks that in less skilful hands would not pay off, this exploration of the act of storytelling is as chilling as it is beguiling.”


”I’m not usually a fan of novels that jump between genres, or those that leave the reader with more questions than answers. ’The Rabbit Back Literature Society’ does both and yet I enjoyed it immensely and was drawn in by the mysterious society and it’s clique of darkly funny members.”

The List

”This clever mystery mixes the small-town surrealism of Twin Peaks with the clandestine-society theme of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.”

”The Rabbit Back Literature Society is one of the strangest books I had pleasure to read but despite all the weirdness it does make sense. It is an irresistibly fabulous book bursting with surreal moments reminiscent of Haruki Murakami and Jasper Fforde, enriched with Finnish atmosphere and Nordic traditions.”


”Beautifully written with just a soupçon of magical realism about it, this is the first of Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s novels to be translated into English from its native Finnish and it likely won’t be the last. It’s slow to build but once you start reading you’re drawn in tighter and tighter and you have to keep turning the pages. By turns quirky and fun, dark and suspenseful, written with the kind of verve and wit to which few authors even aspire, it has a deft touch with some rather deep themes and wraps them in the guise of a fairytale, but one that you wouldn’t tell a child.”

A Wood of One’s Own

I read this book recently, it told me about the way I think. It told me about how nothing makes sense whilst being very entertaining and not trying to tell me anything.”



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