Troll ~A Love Story~

In Novel on January 6, 2005 at 2:59 am

troll-thumb.jpgTroll ~A Love Story~ (2000)
Johanna Sinisalo

Originally titled ‘Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi‘ (translated as ‘Not Before Sundown’) in Finnish, it finally got translated and released here four years later. It won the highest Finnish literature award Finlandia. The story set place in contemporary world with a slight alternate history twist: mythical creature troll‘s existence has been scientifically proven and identified as real but extremely rare species since early 1900s. The legends of troll are originally found in Norse Mythology and Scandinavian folklores. I’ve read stories about Finnish trolls before: the Moominvalley by Tove Jansson ^^;;! In this book trolls are not that cuddly at all, they are 2 meters tall demonic cat+ape-like creatures who hide out in forest and caves.

Story: It is essentially a ‘beauty and the beast’ love story between human and troll. Young photographer Mikael (nicknamed ‘Angel’ for his stunning angelic beauty) rescued a troll (male) cub from the street. He nursed it back to health and tried to raise/tame the wild creature. He named the troll Pessi after a children story. Angel set out to research everything about trolls to gain a better understanding of this new companion. The two developed an bond that’s obsessive, possessive, erotic and eventually, deadly…

The book is written in a interesting format. Each chapter is headed by a character’s name. So we get different perspectives which help creating suspense and offering well-rounded insights of every character. The characters include Angel himself, a veterinarian (Angel’s ex), a nerdy bookworm (Angel’s suitor), an advertising asshole named Martes who took advantage of Angel’s crush on him (argh who cares if he’s dead sexy, a jerk is a jerk!), and a poor abused Filipino mail order bride neighbor. Pessi never talked.

The characters’ chapters are broken up by excerpts from (made up) online researches, reference mythology/folklore, scientific journals, newspaper articles, children’s stories, poems, novels, etc. that Angel read. These excerpts made the alternate-universe contemporary world-setting more believable. I especially like the scientific explanation of how troll turn to ‘stone’ from sun as recorded in legends. There’s reference to real works such as Finland’s epic Kalevala.

I can’t stop thinking about the characters even after I finished the book. The prose are simple yet loaded with themes and symbolism. I enjoy this kind of fantasy novels that is grounded in a contemporary world or alternate history where the setting is not too far-fetch, believable and relateable. I found Angel and Martes’s world of advertising/graphic design/freelance…so familiar ^^;;

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