Maria Turtschaninoff: Underfors [Underville]

28 January 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Underfors
[Underville]
Helsingfors: Söderströms, 2010. 342 p.
ISBN 978-951-52-2739-3
€16 , hardback

This highly original fantasy novel by the Swedish-speaking author Maria Turtschaninoff (born 1977) is evidence of the innovative thinking that Finnish authors for young people bring to the international fantasy genre, particularly the currently fashionable vampire and werewolf themes associated with the borderline between life and death. The protagonist, Alva, is an adopted teenage girl who has some black holes in her memory of early childhood. A young man called Nide leads Alva to a land situated beneath Helsinki, where Alva learns that she is the heir to the shadow king. This novel is teeming with goblins, sprites, kelpies, pixies and sorceresses. Events come to a head on Midsummer Night, when magic spells can come true. Underfors is a classic story of a person’s search for her identity: Alva constructs her shattered self using fragments she finds from her past. She is liberated from guilt, longing and her inexplicable anguish, but becoming free requires sacrifices and struggles with ethical issues.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

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