A gothic novel for children (12-15) where The Secret Garden meets Jane Eyre

It is the autumn of 1710, and the plague is spreading its black wings across Stockholm. The church bells are ringing constantly for the dead. Bodies litter the narrow streets.

Fifteen year-old Magdalena has grown up in rich, happy family. But not even the most privileged homes in the city are safe from the disease, that some say is a punishment from God. When Magdalena’s mother dies, she and her little sister Ebba are sent away to their aunt while their father stays in Stockholm.

Without her parents, Magdalena is forced to grow up quickly as she takes care of her sister. They arrive at Black Pond castle, where they meet their mother’s sister for the first time. Aunt Katarina is fanatically religious, cold and judgmental.

The castle is severly understaffed. Beautiful, but slowly falling apart. The rooms are
full of secrets. Why does Katarina hate Magdalena’s mother so much? Why is Magdalena not allowed, under any circumstances, to meet Katarina’s stepson Axel? Who is the terrifying priest that has aunt Katarina in the palm of his hand? And why does the elm tree behind the church never lose its blood-red leaves?

All will be revealed, as autumn moves into winter. A love story develops between Magdalena and Axel. They can only bloom at night, hidden from sight. But the final piece of the puzzle arrives together with a doll, sent from Stockholm to Magdalena’s little sister …

NIGHT VIOLETS is a beautiful, eerie story about dark family secrets and forbidden love, and ghosts and memories that haunt us.


Mats Strandberg makes his reader gasp for air. It’s both beautiful and clever. And very creepy. Because Strandberg knows what he’s doing.Expressen

“The writing is cinematic and beautiful with fog, smoke and starry skies. Strandberg’s language is simple and straight-forward without being banal, “old-fashioned” but not archaic …. It’s at its very best in the scenes where Magdalena meets Axel, the young lord of the castle, and when she worries about the changes in her sister under the influence of their strict aunt. Towards the end there’s a twist and an escalation that makes the book hard to put down.”Jönköpings-Posten

“The story is a classically, slowly told and nicely portraited manor tale with clear Cinderella elements and not least a respectful greeting to predecessors such as Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. The strongest thing in the book, despite plague, ghosts and sadistic castle wives, is Strandberg’s nuanced portrayal of the girls’ sisterhood, with small means that give a very nice effect. Despite crises and challenges, they find their way back to each other. Strandberg’s real demons are found among the living; the dead wish us no harm. It’s a bit as if Maria Gripe and Lars Norén had a (literary) love child. But outside of marriage, of course.”Dagens Nyheter

“Night Violets is spooky and thrilling but it’s also a fantastic family story. The flow in the language is so important when writing for children and Mats Strandberg is a real master.”TV4

“Night Violets has all the ingredients needed for a story with just the right amount of eeriness and scariness. The language flows nicely all throughout the book. As always, with this type of story, as a reader I try to be one step ahead and figure out what’s going on, but despite the fact that I’m significantly older than the target audience, I don’t succeed all the way through and the end turns out to be a surprise. Beside the scary story, Strandberg touches on issues of women’s rights and prejudices about what makes ‘a real man’, which gives the book a modern touch despite the fact that it’s set in the 16th century.”Skånska Dagbladet