Netflix’s Stolen might look like a sweet Swedish drama with reindeers but something horrific is happening

A first look image of Stolen on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix has announced the premiere date for Stolen, its dramatisation of the award-winning YA novel by Ann-Helén Laestadius. The film, which comes to the the best streaming service in April 2024, comes with promo images of wintry tropes such as snowmobiles and cute reindeer, but there's nothing cute about this wintry chiller. It may be coming out in the coming months, but this is a drama to make the temperature drop.

Based on the book of the same name, Stolen is about a young woman's struggle to defend her heritage in an increasingly xenophobic world – a world that's changing fast, where climate change threatens the very livelihoods and sadness threatens the very lives of her community. While a series of apparent hate crimes are at the core, the story touches on much bigger themes including inequality, loss and revenge –and with Laestadius on board as an executive producer it promises to stay true to the spirit of the novel.

What to expect from Stolen on Netflix

Stolen is told through the character of Elsa, a nine year old girl that lives just inside the Arctic Circle who witnesses a horrific act. Shocked into silence, she carries the secret into adulthood – and that secret returns, setting in place a chain of events that will have a bloody climax. Many reviewers found the book very cinematic. The Guardian said that "it’s no surprise a Netflix film is forthcoming. You can already see the blood and antlers on the snow, and hear the ominous roar of approaching snowmobiles, the sudden crack of a rifle shot".

Writing in the New York Times (paywall), Lisa Abend explains that the Sami people that the novel focuses on are indigenous to the Arctic areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia's Kola peninsula. "For centuries, their language and culture have been forcibly suppressed by national governments that also stripped their land rights and developed industries that threatened the habitats on which their livelihoods and culture depend." 

Author and former crime reporter Laestadius is Sami too, and her novel takes some of the Sami people's trauma and, as Abend puts it, transmutes it into rage. What at first appears to be a crime novel – and a horrifying, real life crime at that – becomes something much bigger, a meditation on intergenerational trauma, loss, and shame. 

Stolen sounds like it'll be a very different proposition from the usual crime dramas, and if the reviews of the book are any indication Netflix could have something very special – and disturbing – on its hands.

Stolen will premiere on Netflix on April 12, 2024.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.